Today is International Women’s Day.
It is a day to recognize and honor the importance of the work of women; their work at home and away from home. It is also a day to recognize the limitations on women’s involvement, safety, education, advancement and equal pay.
One of my heroes is Wangari Maathai of Kenya. She won the Nobel Peace prize for leading the Green Belt Movement in Africa. This primarily village women’s movement has planted tens of millions of trees across Africa to slow soil erosion and provide shade and organic matter for agricultural soils. She argued that there would be fewer wars if the men would stay home and help manage resources and grow food rather than fight over resources that are degraded. Of course this is complicated by multi-national corporations and foreign governments.
Here are a couple useful links about international women’s programs, where you can learn about some of the issues and programs, or make a contribution:
What does that have to do with this photograph in Switzerland? Well, this woman’s simple act of kindness salvaged a long day of photography that had produced very little, up to that point. And it may be a stretch, but I think that it also shows a woman’s natural inclination to do something nice, to make things better, to help, or to contribute, rather than ignore situations. She didn’t know anything about me or my day, but she could have ignored me or turned away.
This is one of my favorite photographs. It was in a train station in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. I had spent the day riding cable cars and mountain trains and walking trying to photograph the amazing peaks of the high Swiss Alps. The weather had not cooperated. I was on my way back to Wengen where our hotel was. I decided not to put my camera back in my pack, even though it didn’t seem like there would be any photo opportunities. As trains came into this little station, I started following them in and photographing them as they slowly came to a stop. This woman spotted me and decided to participate in the photograph.
The afternoon sun shown a short ways into the train car. It was just enough light to highlight her smile and her graceful peace sign. The other passengers remain in shadows.
This track was under a glass roof inside the station. The highlights are subdued. The Swiss railway worker adds color and precision as he walks the shadow line. Lines converge toward the woman; the railway worker’s shadow, the roof structure shadows, and even the upper arm that connects the electric train to the power line, lead the eye to her. There are interesting textures, such as the expandable rubber train passageway at the left edge, the solar panels on the parking structure behind the train, the train wheels, and the red cable at the bottom of the train.
May the women in your life lead a peaceful day today, and tomorrow. You can view other photographs of Switzerland in the Photo Gallery at my website: www.earthmapphoto.com