Kribina Pathak, Ikenhi, Surkhet, 2019.
A woman collects water for her children from a stream in the early morning as mist rolls over the hills in the background. The water level is low, revealing the barren river banks. Women have long held the responsibility to collect water for their families but climate change has led to water sources drying up. This means longer walks to reach water sources, demanding more time and energy, and has been linked to uterine prolapse in some young women. The water carries its own risks. Pollution has poisoned many rivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has also meant that water is more critical than ever – not only key to supporting daily life but essential to protecting against the risk of transmission.
Parbati Pandey, Temal, Kavre, 2015.
A group of men enjoy the view of the hillside from a chautari (a rest stop) while a woman goes in search of food for her cattle. It is a tranquil scene but there will be no rest for the woman. Patriarchal norms in Nepal mean that women are responsible for the bulk of household chores. Despite Nepal’s recent commitments to gender equality, some things have yet to change.
Ankit Khadgi, Kathmandu, 2021.
A man’s bare torso is softly illuminated – emerging from the dark with a red flower clutched to the chest. A self-portrait as an act of self love, the photographer is celebrating his body, in defiance of traditional masculine norms. Central to the frame, the photographer juxtaposes the man and the flower but claims there is no difference – his body is “as beautiful as a flower.”
Keshav Kandel, Rani Pokhari, Kathmandu, 2019.
Women dressed in bright colors bustle across an open field carrying goods and welding tools. The image was taken during the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari (an historic site) in the heart of Kathmandu and shows two men sitting on the sidelines overlooking the activity. In the fading light of the day, there are strong contrasts between the stillness of the men and the activity of the women.
Pradhanya Yonzon, Chabahil, Kathmandu, 2019.
A woman chauffeur is framed by the windshield and reflected in the rearview mirror. As more and more men have sought work abroad, women have taken up occupations that were previously the domain of men – such as butchers, pharmacists and chauffeurs. Although some women have been empowered by these shifts, gaining independence and learning new skills in the process, change is slow. Women drivers remain rare, and fewer still own their own vehicles.
Sunil Sharma, Rukum, 2020.
A girl reads a book for her friends in a village in Rukum, western Nepal. All three of the children are barefoot but the girl reading is wearing her school uniform. Her friends are transfixed as she shares her knowledge with them. Most families in this district send their sons to school but require their daughters to work.
Shreya Rai, Thaiba, Lalitpur, 2021.
A figure and a face are obscured in the shadows. Wisps of long hair mimic the shadows of the tree leaves. The human form becomes a flat surface onto which gendered norms, roles and expectations are projected, with little concern of the true identity underneath.
“This is Gender Nepal” welcomed 127 submissions from 56 participants. The shortlisted images were chosen by a panel of expert judges, to whom we are grateful for their time, insights, expertise and critiques in producing this selection.
Ramyata Limbu, Director of the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival
Sujan Chitrakar, artist, art educator, and independent curator
Uma Bista, photographer
Imogen Bakelmun, former Communications Director at Global Health 50/50
Anna Purdie, Programme manager, Global Health 50/50
Global Health 50/50 launched the This is Gender photography competition in 2019 in response to the lack of representational diversity and critically reflective images of gender in global health. Now in our third year, This is Gender continues to confront and complexify the lens through which we envision our gendered world, holding up a mirror to the diverse ways gender norms – rigid and fluid, traditional and progressive – are lived and subverted across the world. Through showcasing diverse and reflective imagery from around the world, it hopes to encourage actors and organizations to interrogate the politics of representation and the visual ethics of the images that are produced and disseminated through their work.