Photo contest in Moldova explores perceptions of gender equality

“Equality through lenses – Women and men” photo exhibits, seen by over 15,000, aims to raise awareness of gender equality among the youth.


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Professional photographer Andrei Mardari's winning photo of "Inspiring Women" awards. Photo: UN Women/Andrei Mardari  

Two women in a boxing match, a man playing with young children, and a woman in uniform in a line of male soldiers were some of the winning images from a national photo contest, organized by UN Women, on the perception of gender equality in Moldova. The winners were among 50 selected national photos from amateur and professional photographers whose pictures were displayed as part of a project, Equality through lenses – Women and men, seen through the lens of photographers: realities and inspirations.

The contest generated a wide range of pictures on gender issues. These were shown in more than 30 photo exhibitions across Moldova, attracting over 15,000 visitors during the past 10 months. More than 1,500 people took part in public debates that accompanied the displayed photos. Participants in the discussions also voted on the best pictures based on photographic techniques as well as the gender equality issues that were reflected in each image. More than 32 educational institutions from across the country took part in the photo project.

Offering photographers’ perceptions of gender, the exhibits had an impact on young people.

“We took a small first step in raising the issue of gender equality among young people in many places we’d not yet reached. Moldovan society is open to gender equality and actions like ours have an impact,” said Ms. Ulziisuren Jamsran, UN Women Country representative in Moldova.

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Amateur photographer Olga Gnatcova's photo won in the "Inspiring Men' category. Photo: UN Women/Olga Gnatcova

Professional and amateur photographers received separate awards in two categories: “Inspiring Men” and “Inspiring Women.” Amateur photographer Olga Gnatcova, who won the "Inspiring Men" category, said, "This contest has given us, and me personally, the opportunity to think about the issues that remain after the photos. There is not a clear understanding in Moldova of gender issues, and such exhibitions and debates certainly bring the subject closer to the public.”

The contest also included three “Public Sympathy” awards which were selected by those who took part in the public debates. Olga, 22, from the Military Academy from Chișinău, participated in the debates and voted on the winning photographs. She said, “The sessions on gender equality were really educational. I believe that it is necessary to introduce the topic of gender equality as a separate object of study in the school curriculum.”

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Irina Chirniiciuc's winning photo of the "Public Sympathy" awards. Photo: UN Women/Irina Chirniiciuc

A photo of a woman fire-fighter was one of the winning “Public Sympathy” awards. The award-winning photographer, Irina Chirniiciuc, said: "I want to thank all of you for this opportunity, for the fact that my photo was exhibited alongside other great works all over the country, and I'm glad that it is one of the photos voted by the public. The woman in the picture is an inspirational model for me and promotes the good message that some professions can be practiced regardless of gender.”

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Elena Perevalova’s photo also won in the “Public Sympathy” category. Photo: UN Women/Elena Perevalova

Elena Perevalova’s photo of a man racing in a wheelchair also won in the “Public Sympathy” category. She said: “When I saw the young man in a wheelchair at last year’s international marathon, I was overwhelmed with positive emotions. This young man inspired me to not complain, but to fight for my dreams, my goals. And, through this photo, I wanted to convey this message to all people from Moldova. Plus, by participating with this photo in the contest, I have now a new friend.”

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Andrei Ghilan’s boxing photo was another winner of the “Public Sympathy” category. Photo: UN Women/Andrei Ghilan

Andrei Ghilan’s boxing photo was another winner. He said that the nomination of his photograph was a pleasant surprise. "I'm glad that I succeeded to convey the desired message, and the public’s vote is an incentive for me to continue in creating photographic reportages," said Andrei.

The project results can be accessed through an interactive map that was launched at the closing event. A survey was conducted among those who voted and took part in the debates around the photographs. More than 57 per cent of the 1042 respondents were women. More than half of the respondents believe that gender equality is not respected in Moldovan society, one in three of the young students believe that gender equality is respected partially and just over 13 per cent say that it is totally respected.

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Professional photographer Dmitrii Vosimeric's winner photo of the "Inspiring Men" awards. Photo: UN Women/Dmitrii Vosimeric

More than 80 per cent of respondents believe that public debates and photo exhibitions competitions are among the best methods for creating awareness about gender equality.

The “Equality through lenses” photo project ran from July 2015 to April 2016. The photo competition was organized by Profile, a PR agency, with support from the UN “Women in Politics” Programme, implemented by UN Women and UNDP, in partnership with the East Europe Foundation and Centre, the Partnership for Development, with financial support of the Government of Sweden. Selected photographs and their messages do not necessarily reflect the position and opinion of the UN “Women in Politics” Programme, or other implementing partners or donors.