Children collecting water instead of attending school @Amina Mohamed Photography

How Photography and Female Empowerment Go Together

What does empowerment mean? For me, it’s the ability to empower females, whether that means giving a student the confidence to say yes to an opportunity or helping someone grow in their career through the teaching of photography and business skills. Three years ago, we launched an exciting new project called Cameras For Girls. Cameras For Girls is not just about photography – it’s about empowering women through their passion for storytelling and allowing them to share their stories with the world. 

All around the world, girls and women face challenges that can leave them feeling powerless. As an educator, it’s my job to empower girls through photography by helping them realize the power they have within themselves to make their own stories come to life with photography, in whatever way that may be for them.

Females learning photography in the Cameras For Girls Workshop @Amina Mohamed Photography

Females learning photography in the Cameras For Girls Workshop @Amina Mohamed Photography

Cameras For Girls In Africa

Cameras For Girls was founded by Amina Mohamed in August 2018. She’s always been interested in photography as a medium for education and human empowerment. It wasn’t until she returned to her home country in 2007 that she saw the need, and thus she came up with the idea to start a non-profit with a mission to empower females in Africa to get full-time paid work by learning photography and business skills. 

CFG is a Canadian charity that uses photography education programs to empower females to become journalists, particularly those from low-income communities. By providing cameras and photojournalism workshops, these girls develop new self-confidence, discover their potential (which is then channelled back into their communities), and build stronger relationships with others.

Female Empowerment Through Photography Workshops in Africa

Learning photography is more than just learning how to operate a camera; it’s also about telling stories in new ways. Cameras For Girls empowers women through photography workshops, combining a hands-on workshop with an educational overview. This training gives them the confidence to continue telling their own stories in new ways after graduating from both school and the training. Many of these women have never operated cameras before, so they come into the workshop knowing almost nothing. By day 3 of their workshop, they are using semi-professional-grade gear that has taught them how to frame shots and has given them confidence because it gives them power over what they create.  

Telling stories that matter to them is only one of the goals of our workshops. The more important goal is to empower them to get full-time paid work in the male-dominated field of journalism and photojournalism. They can escape poverty and support themselves, their families, and their communities.

Children collecting water instead of attending school @Amina Mohamed Photography

Children collecting water instead of attending school @Amina Mohamed Photography

Other Vital Photography Programs Around the World

When women gain a sense of power, they feel a newfound sense of purpose in life. The same feeling that photography programs help instill in students around the world. This is important for all women, especially girls who are still growing up. It’s important to know that you can fight your way out of challenging situations; it’s important to have role models around you when life feels overwhelming. 

Our students can show other girls what it means to be strong and confident — both inside and outside — which will empower them throughout their lives. We should all be able to explore our creativity without prejudice or limitations.

Cameras For Girls is not unique in what they offer; there are numerous programs out there that do outstanding work, such as The Giving Lens, operated by notable photographer Colby Brown, who leads workshops that involve working with NGOs. 

There’s also 100 Cameras, run by Angela Francine Popplewell, who works with youth worldwide who live in challenging circumstances to tell their stories. 

Finally, there’s Photographers Without Borders, run by Danielle Khan Da Silva. The goal of PWB is to equip photographers with the training to go out into their communities at large and document compelling stories from the pov of the communities they work with.

We are different in that the end goal is job creation to alleviate poverty and fight for gender equality in countries where it is severely lacking. By documenting their stories and empowering them with the skills and the training to do the same, we make a profound difference in their lives.

Beginner to Professional Training at Home and Abroad

As a professional photographer, business owner, and artist, I understand that learning how to take better photographs is only part of the goal when teaching photography to our students in Africa. Many have questions, such as, how do I start a business? Making money is the goal for most who come into the training; however, without the proper foundations in photography, they must understand that they will never make money. Thus, we start right at the beginning with a 3-day workshop covering aspects all the basics, such as composition, the exposure triangle, and how to see and read light. On day three, we delve into using the camera as a tool to tell stories. 

Over the year-long online program, we delve into intermediate and advanced topics delivered through our video portal. We also gather bi-weekly to talk, support each other and share feedback on their photos via zoom. Finally, the training comes together with monthly assignments that prepare them to take on the challenges of a full-time career in journalism or photojournalism.

Students in the 2019 Cameras For Girls workshop @DanielMoxie0

Students in the 2019 Cameras For Girls workshop @DanielMoxie0

Spreading Our Mission Across Africa

Over the past decade, the term “girl power” has taken on an entirely new meaning. Once relegated to the lyrics of pop songs and fan magazines, the phrase girl power now brings images of empowered women throughout the world to mind – from female CEOs and world leaders to celebrities, activists, and entrepreneurs. 

Unfortunately, not every female has this opportunity in the developing world. The reasons are many, but the primary reasons are that females are challenged by society and family norms that the woman’s place is in the home. Many lack education simply because they were born female, and their families either don’t believe in education or they cannot afford it, as education is not free.

Cameras For Girls started in Uganda but has since expanded to South Africa. The goal is to give females in Africa a chance to show their worth by documenting their lives through photography. With Cameras For Girls, these women will share their experiences with others who can relate from all around Africa. These girls can become role models for future generations of young women who want to make a difference and have a life of their own choosing.

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