INSTITUTE celebrates International Woman's Day

7 min readMar 8, 2019


INSTITUTE is exceptionally fortunate to represent and collaborate with some of the worlds leading visual storytellers. Today, Friday March 8th we highlight a few projects made by or where the main protagonist/s are women.

from the series Peru’s Empleadas © Susana Raab/INSTITUTE

Susana Raab a photographer based in DC produced an incredible semi-autobiographical feature based on a racial hierarchy that exists across Latin America, a colonial legacy which manifests itself in the system of domestic labour in Peru. Peru’s Empleadas relates Susana’s personal experiences with the empleadas in Peru

Founded in January 2019 by the award-winning documentary and commercial director, Lauren Greenfield, Girl Culture Films is a commercial production company based in Venice, California that represents A-list female directors such as Catherine Hardwicke, Karyn Kiyoko Kusama, Amy Berg, Maya Forbes, Marina Zenovich, Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing, Yance Ford and Lana Wilson.

“I started Girl Culture Films after I directed the viral commercial #likeagirl and discovered the enormous pent-up demand by women around the world to see their voices, dreams and aspirations represented on the big and small screen. When I compared the Harvard Business School report showing that around 86% of global consumer decisions are made by women with the Annenberg research showing that fewer than 5% of commercials are directed by women, I recognized that this was too big of a disconnect to ignore. So, I started Girl Culture Films to ensure that women’s voices are part of the conversation,” says founder Lauren Greenfield.

“I knew that the key to connecting with a female audience was storytelling, so our roster is comprised of incredible directing talent from the worlds of narrative, documentary, comedy and action, who have distinctive voices and capture the human experience in a profound and connective way.”

In addition to bringing these amazing filmmakers to the worlds of commercials and branded content, Girl Culture Films will also be developing non-fiction/fiction film and television projects for the networks, studios and streamers.

from the series Drummies © Alice Mann/INSTITUTE

Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1991, Alice Mann is a South African photographer who’s intimate portraiture essays explore notions of picture making as an act of collaboration, presenting viewers with empowering images that highlight her subjects’ dignity and confidence.

Her multi-award winning series depicts the aspirational world of drum majorettes in South Africa. The girls, affectionately known as ‘drummies’ come from some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities.

from the series New Girl Order © Iain Mckell/INSTITUTE

When Iain McKell met a group of young female artists living in Tottenham, North London, he was struck by their ‘sparkly personalities’ and quirky dress sense. Colourful hair, Buffalo boots, ethnic jewellery and 1970s vintage leopard skin print flares: it all added up to a unique aesthetic that smacked of subculture, individuality, creativity; of women who know their own minds. New Girl Order on the one hand, is very much of its time, a 21st-century portrait of a ‘community of feisty individualistic females who share a unique, strong and loving bond’, to quote Iain. Indeed, he has said that all of his work reflects, like a mirror, the time in which it is made and always comes from a personal point of view. But it could also be said that New Girl Order transcends a particular time and place, for who hasn’t experienced a period of self-discovery or felt the thrill and sheer joy of being part of a group of like-minded souls.

from the series Black Mambas © Lee-Ann Olwage/INSTITUTE

Meet the ladies of the Black Mambas, an all-female anti-poaching unit who are changing the face of conservation.

The Black Mamba anti-poaching unit was founded in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa and was created to protect the Olifants West Region of Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa. They have since expanded to cover the entire Balule area which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Since the unit went into operation in 2013, the number of rhinos lost to poaching has plummeted, snaring and illegal bush-meat incidents have been reduced by 75 per cent, and nine poacher incursions have been detected, leading to the arrests of the offenders. The 32 unarmed members of the unit conduct foot- patrols, observations, vehicle checks and, roadblocks, as well as educating their peers on the importance of conservation and gathering intelligence from their communities. Lee-Ann Olwage photographed The Black Mambas who are often portrayed as women doing a man’s job. But perhaps that is not the case. Perhaps they are women doing what women do best: nurturing, educating and taking care of our communities and wildlife.

from the series Queejna/Queen © Elin Berge/Moment/INSTITUTE

Queejna/Queen shows women with different backgrounds and opportunities in a number of photographic works by Elin Berge taken between 2004–2018. The women portrayed have in common that they are often seen as provoking to their surroundings or perceived as victims for social and/or religious norms in society. The photographs ask questions like: What is real love? What is male/female? Who is entitled to the female body?

Queejna/Queen showcases the duality of the word queejna, which the writer Sara Lidman used in the meaning of ”woman”. The word queejna can also mean the “queen of the house”, i.e. a powerful woman.

from the series Beginning of the Party © Marie Hald/Moment/INSTITUTE

Beginning to drink can be seen as a rite of passage into adult life. In Denmark numerous activities and parties are arranged by parents with the purpose of sending young boys and girls into the part of their lives where alcohol is a normal setting for every social event.

Marie Hald focuses on the Danish phenomenon of “Halfest” (‘Gym Party’) — a discotheque hosted by adults and a common place for a Danish child to have his/her first experience with alcohol. Beginning of the Party is part of the Moment Agency group project and exhibition Almost Perfect

from the series Deflowered © Tine Poppe/INSTITUTE

An estimated 200 million girls and women alive today are believed to have been subjected to FGM — female genital mutilation. If the practice continues at recent levels, 68 million girls will be cut by 2030. Its persistence is a sign of global inequality and an indication that health systems are failing to protect the health and human rights of the poorest and most vulnerable women and girls. the practice is an extreme violation of women’s basic human rights.

Female genital mutilation takes place during childhood, at the time of marriage, during a woman’s first pregnancy or after the birth of her first child. Recent reports suggest that the age has been dropping in some areas, with most FGM carried out on girls between the ages of 0 and 15 years. Tine Poppe artistic interpretation is titled Deflowered.

from the series We Are Here Because We Are Strong © Giles Duly for UNHCR/INSTITUTE

In modern conflict, it is often women who carry the greatest burden. Wars no longer have front lines. Civilians are increasingly targeted. Rape and sexual violence continue being used as a weapon of war, and when forced to flee homes, it is women that take charge to hold families together and support children.

The viciousness against women was particularly brutal in the recent outbreak of violence that began in March 2017 in the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of the Congo. It triggered the internal displacement of some 1.4 million persons and the flight of over 34,000 refugees into Lunda Norte Province, in North East Angola. The newly arrived reported widespread violence, mass killings, mutilations, burning of property, destruction of villages, schools and churches and human rights abuses, as well as food shortage and the lack of access to basic services and goods

Most specifically the refugees arriving in Angola spoke of Government forces and militias deliberately targeting women in some of the worst gender-based violence the region has seen. As families fled across the border to neighbouring Angola, the medical staff that received them were shocked by the stories and medical condition of many of the women and girls arriving.

Giles Duley has spent many years documenting the long term impact of war. We Are Here Because We Are Strong focusses on the female Congolese refugees in Angola. This work was made in collaboration with UNHCR.