Due to recent events in politics, this year’s International Women’s Day came well-anticipated. Many people participated in supporting women-owned businesses specifically this March 8, while some went as far as to participate in the “A Day Without Women” protest in which students and employees refused to attend their places of work and education. St. Kate’s a school mostly for (and run by) women, celebrated such a day by inviting Annie Griffiths, a successful and influential photographer, to speak at the relevantly named Jean d’Arc auditorium. One of the first woman photographers for National Geographic Magazine, Griffiths has made the support and recognition of women around the world her focus since day one of her career. “I had half the population to myself. There were just guy photographers, and nobody was telling the women’s stories; and there were so many stories to tell, especially in gender-separate societies” she says.
She makes a reference to this organization in the middle of her presentation. “It’s the ripple effect.” she states when speaking of the different women she’s encountered. “If you help a woman, she will help her kids, her neighbors, her parents, her community, her country, the world… It’s biology. It’s not that guys are bad, it’s that men are by nature territorial (and we forget that we’re critters), and women are by nature nurturers, and they take responsibility for more… and they are so different than the way western media portrays them. And over time I started to get really ticked off that all we saw were women as victims of conflict, but mostly sexual vulnerability. It’s just not accurate. It makes people turn away from their potential. More and more I’ve realized that it’s been calling to me; to help the Western world see women as the best investment we can make in our shared future. I believe that as much as I believe anything.”
Griffiths seemed to have very strong ideas about the nature of and power of womankind, supported by her experiences with and documentation of women around the world. “I realized, these are not women to be pitied: these are women to be learned from. These are women to admire. These are the survivors of their cultures and of this planet, and it completely changed the way I approached all cultures” she tells the audience, and indeed she seems to have taken on the hardiness and determination she describes witnessing for herself; apparently having traveled to no less than 13 different countries whilst being pregnant with her daughter Lily, and 150 over all. In her words, “Women don’t just settle with one thing… We find our way around obstacles. It’s what [we] do.”