Empowering Yemen Through Women's Perspectives
Zain Alaabdain Ben Ali

In the face of numerous challenges and obstacles, Yemeni female photographers persevere in their craft, driven by hope for a better future and bolstered by the support of their communities and fellow artists. The stories of Hajar, Amat, and Tansim exemplify the resilience and determination of Yemeni women, even amid adversity. They strive to inspire and empower other women to pursue their passions, develop their talents, and realize their dreams. Their stories remind us all that hope and beauty can be found even in the darkest times and that our collective strength and determination can lead to positive change in our lives and communities. 

Hajar's Story

In her twenties, Hajar Aljabali confronted the hardships of displacement to Marib province. However, she embraced her camera as a shield, capturing cherished memories and breathtaking scenes and immortalizing beautiful moments. No smile or joy eludes Hajar's sharp lens.  

"This picture captures the most beautiful moment of my trip and serves as a precious souvenir. It exudes such tranquility and joy that anyone who gazes upon it can't help but feel uplifted." © Hajar Al-Jabali 

"Today's photos are tomorrow's memories" is Hajar's guiding principle, which has fueled her passion for photography since childhood. She is devoted to preserving moments that hold deep meaning for others, moments that cannot be relived or forgotten.  

"Capturing fleeting moments of happiness within a large displacement camp, overshadowed by suffering and despair, kindles hope, passion, and determination," Hajar shares with heartfelt emotion.  

Today's photos are
tomorrow's memories. 

As a woman, Hajar seeks to break the male-dominated monopoly of the photography profession, but she encounters obstacles and challenges along the way. Cultural norms, traditions, and a pervasive sense of shame that often disapprove of women working become even more rigid in the context of photography. Hajar acknowledges this: "Tradition presents a formidable barrier to us."  

The ongoing war and the complex landscape of military factions have made photographers targets for conflict parties.  

"Merely holding a camera in the street makes you a perceived agent, informant, and criminal in the eyes of the warring factions, turning you into an easy target," Hajar laments.  

Despite the challenges of male dominance she encountered in photography and her frustration with the male-centric mentality of photography officials across various institutions, Hajar is grateful to a fellow photographer who "played a crucial role in encouraging and guiding me into the public space."   

Amat's Story  

Amat Alrahman Alafori is a dedicated photographer who has worked relentlessly over the years to document the tragedy of war and the suffering endured by the Yemeni people. Despite facing numerous difficulties and challenges, her enthusiasm and commitment to photography remain unwavering. 

"This is Aden, Sana'a, and the essence of art in a single frame. It's my personal favourite because it was my first capture, and it fills me with a sense of pride and contentment, knowing that I accomplished a significant milestone in my life." © Amat Alrahman Alafori 

"The biggest challenge was embracing this profession within my rural community, where the idea of women working outside the home is frowned upon, let alone pursuing photography and media," Amat explains.  

Fueled by her passion for photography, Amat journeyed to Aden province from the remote Mawiyah district in Taiz province, where strict traditions and customs constrain women. In Aden, she found the supportive environment she sought. "Aden fosters a suitable and encouraging atmosphere for all kinds of work. The Aden community played a significant role in helping me master the art of photography and thrive in this profession."  

Hope still exists.
Aden helped thrive. 

However, Amat acknowledges that "fieldwork is exhausting and requires patience. Even if society is more understanding, there are still instances of minor verbal harassment." Amat has encountered various forms of harassment, provocation, and restrictions on her photography due to partisan and political biases. She says that photography is "risky for women, with every press of a button potentially carrying a price."   

Despite the challenges and obstacles facing female photographers, Amat remains determined to excel in her field. "Hope still exists. The community in Aden has been instrumental in helping me refine my talent and offering encouragement."     

"Living in harmony in Aden - A depiction of  Aden in all its simplicity and coexistence since ancient times." © Amat Alrahman Alafori 

Tasneem's Story 

In Yemen, most female photographers primarily focus on weddings and women-only events, especially those where male photographers are not allowed. However, some brave women break this barrier, venturing into streets, and public spaces and covering various events, only to encounter many challenges and obstacles.   

Tasneem Almohammady, a photographer in Taiz province, shares, "society's narrow perspective is the biggest barrier preventing me from fully pursuing my profession and soaring to greater heights."  

It's a refreshing feeling
that fuels my passion.

The obstacles facing photographers extend beyond traditional customs to encompass the country's political and security turmoil. The ongoing war and myriad military factions limit photographers' freedom, making them prime targets for warring parties.  

"This picture portrays the most significant landmarks of Taiz: Cairo Castle and Al-Muzaffar Mosque." © Tasneem Almohammady 

"Venturing out to document social or public stories that capture people's lives, we find ourselves confronted by armed individuals and intruders, facing numerous forms of harassment," Tasneem reveals. "At times, I cease taking pictures, and other times, I delete some photos to avoid even bigger problems."  

Despite these daunting challenges, a driving force propels female photographers to persevere and make their mark in this field. Tasneem credits her determination and continued pursuit of photography to the satisfaction and appreciation of her colleagues and clients. "When they admire the images captured through my lens," she says excitedly, "it's a refreshing feeling that fuels my passion."  


"I submitted this picture in the photography competition for the fourth Eid festival in Taiz and secured the tenth place." © Tasneem Almohammady 

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