You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that girls love pictures. With the advent of mobile phones and modern technology, it has become common to come across girls making faces in front of their phones as they use their phone cameras to take selfies.
In restaurants, you will find these girls putting their plates in the right position before taking pictures of their uneaten food, which are sent to either friends or social groups.
“Women are more or less inundated with an endless barrage of media-related images, stories and posts that push them towards specific behaviors. This is to sell makeup, clothes, perfumes, jewelry and so on, and not actually for any other reason,” says Titus Mutahaba, a self-proclaimed psychologist.
He says that this happens from an early age, since they are essentially programmed towards always being pretty, always following influencers, so endless selfies are an offshoot. But for Amina Mohamed, a girl with a camera in her hands, with the right training, can bring positive changes in her individual life and to the community in general.
Amina created her organization, Cameras For Girls, a Canadian Charity that empowers females in the developing world who aspire to be journalists, to overcome poverty and gender inequality using the combined power of photography and business skills.
Working with non-profits and NGOs in Canada, USA and on the African continent to change the “colonial” mindset of how we tell stories, Amina says they teach about ethical photography, storytelling and informed consent, and how important it is to ask for permission and tell authentic stories about hope and resilience, not poverty and degradation.
“We provide our students with a camera to keep and a 4-phase photography and business skills-based curriculum to support their endeavors to become paid journalists in a male-dominated space,” she says, adding that learning to capture their world with their new cameras gives young women a recognized skill that immediately improves their options and helps reduce gender inequality and fights poverty.
She says knowing the gift she had received growing up in Canada, she developed this program to give back to girls and women who do not have this opportunity.
Being a photographer, she says starting this had to be more than just taking beautiful photos, but it had to be about starting a movement for females in developing countries, working with themes of poverty alleviation, gender equality and female empowerment. Amina says that since 2018, about 226 girls have accessed their training, incldents in South Africa through a 4-day workshop delivered online.
“Through our program, we help girls to increase their confidence and their ability to use their voices, both physically and visually, and increase their leadership skills and at the same time learn how to collaborate and work as a team and develop new skills that can empower them and other women in their communities,” she says.
During a one-day workshop organized by Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), Amina said Cameras for Girls normally works with universities, and in Tanzania they work with the University of Dar es Salaam where currently they have about 15 girls under their program.
She told participants of the workshop that given the right training, girls and women can work in any male dominated field, especially in photography and journalism, where they can excel like their male counterparts.