Fast Forward: Mozambique in 10 years

Published 7th April 2019

Ellen Waters is the Director of Development at Doctors of the World UK. She is passionate about access to healthcare around the world and spent four years in India working for human rights organisations.

 

On Thursday 14th March, Cyclone Idai swept Mozambique, leaving behind it a trail of destruction and death. Organisations from all around the world mobilised in just a few hours to get help to the population hit.

Rapid intervention is key to save lives, but there is an often hidden need to provide healthcare for a long time after the disaster, while reconstruction takes place. On World Health Day, I want to bring the focus on the importance of primary and mental health care post-emergency. They will be a key determinant to how Mozambique will be 10 years from now.

Over 120,000 people live in temporary camps today in Mozambique. The sight of rows upon rows of blue tents is now a familiar one, but what we often don’t realise are the health risks associated with living in these conditions.

For the survivors of Cyclone Idai, their health and wellbeing is still not guaranteed. Living in tents in close proximity, in unhygienic settings, with no drinkable water and little access to a doctor, there is a high risk of outbreaks and epidemics. In Mozambique, we are working against the clock to contain a cholera outbreak caused by lack of clean water, and we are increasingly worried about malaria.

 

Life in camps also creates health risks for the most vulnerable, particularly pregnant women, children, and people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. But this situation also carries a hidden, long term risk: life in camps as well as the trauma and impact on daily or family life after the cyclone, can cause mental health to deteriorate.

During our long term intervention in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake, we worked to improve access to primary healthcare, and to train community health workers to provide frontline counselling. Sita, a community health worker, later told us:

“When the earthquake hit, many lost their houses, their loved ones and lost their properties. In that state, many people were in stress, some even had a psychotic episode. So, I have come here to learn more about counselling and coping mechanism for these issues to help people. If I talked about the situation at the time of earthquake, it was very stressful.”

Displaced persons are among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Access to primary and mental health care in post-disaster situations is fundamental to uplift those who have suffered.

With natural disasters on the rise, and the average length of displacement up to 20 years, the need for long term emergency structures will become more common. Providing a safe area, a comfortable space where to speak with a doctor is the idea behind the Global Clinic. We have created this new medical facility to support people from the moment the disaster strikes to when local structures have been fully rebuilt.

The Global Clinic is a low-cost, easily-assembled, and durable solution that creates a private and safe space for patients and doctors worldwide. It can be built in just 4 hours and can last for decades, providing a solid and sturdy space where patients can see a doctor in a private, higynic, and dignified environment.

A space to receive counselling, open up about one’s mental health and the impact of traumatic experiences during the emergency, but also a point of reference in the community, a physical area where everyone can feel welcome and safe. This is the type of medical spaces we want to provide patients all over the world.

Primary care and mental health support are at the root of wellbeing and health. We need work hand in hand with the affected population and local health personnel to guarantee access to the healthcare for people who suffer, and those who have lost everything. With the Global Clinic, we can ensure patients won’t have to see a doctor in muddy tents, boiling hot huts, and unsuitable shipping containers.

Because healthcare is a right, and everyone should be able to access it with dignity.

 

Doctors and MPs demand evidence on migrant healthcare policies

Published 31st March 2019

This week, MPs, Royal Medical Colleges, leading academics, healthcare professionals and unions wrote to the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, calling for the publication migrant healthcare policy reviews.

Signed by The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges and politicians including Lord Hunt of Kings Health, David Lammy MP, Caroline Lucas MP and Kate Green MP, the letter claimed the reviews received “evidence of deterrence and serious harm” caused by these policies “which we consider to be of the utmost seriousness”.

Over the last two years the Department of Health and Social Care has commissioned three reviews to look at the impact of controversial policies – such as sharing migrant patient’s data with immigration officials and withholding healthcare from migrants who cannot pay in advance – on vulnerable patients and public health.  None of the reviews have been made available to the public.

A patient seeing a doctor at a Doctors of The World drop in clinic in Bethnal Green, London, UK.
The volunteer doctors, nurses and support workers offer primary care and health care advice to excluded people including asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Credits: Ben Langdon

 

Healthcare professionals, public health experts, charities and trade unions have long raised concerns that the NHS charging regulations[1] and the practice of sharing patient data with the Home Office for immigration enforcement have a detrimental impact on vulnerable patients, health-seeking behaviour, public health and health inequalities.[2]  As more cases of NHS migrant charging policies causing substantial harm and risks to health and wellbeing come to light,[3] royal medical colleges have recently called for the NHS charging regulations to be suspended pending a full independent review of their impact on individual and public health.[4]

Lucy Jones, Director of Programmes , Doctors of the World said:

“At our clinics we see people living in very difficult circumstances, including pregnant women and asylum seekers, who simply are not getting the healthcare they need because of these policies. Some are refused healthcare and others are just too afraid to go to NHS services.”

Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy, NAT (National AIDS Trust) said:

“The Government is always asking health professionals to provide evidence of the harm of NHS migrant charging and data-sharing practices. Yet, when we do so – and there is a lot of evidence – the findings are buried.”

 

We see people living in very difficult circumstances who simply are not getting the healthcare they need because of migrant charing policies policies. Credits: Ben Langdon 

 

 

[1]National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015 and the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017.

[2] Bowsher GM, Krishnan RA, Shanahan TA, Williams SK. ‘Immigration Act 2014 challenges health of migrants in the UK’ Lancet (London, England) 2015; 385: 852–3; British Medical Association. ‘Government’s migrant charging proposals are impractical, uneconomic and could damage the NHS, warns BMA’, 2013; Farrington, R. et al. (2016) ‘Impact of proposal to extend charging for NHS in England’, Lancet. Elsevier, 388(10043), p. 459. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31150-3.; Feldman, R. (2017) ‘The Impact on Health Inequalities of Charging Migrant Women for NHS Maternity Care: A Scoping Study’, 2018; Rafighi, E. et al. (2016) ‘National Health Service Principles as Experienced by Vulnerable London Migrants in “Austerity Britain”: A Qualitative Study of Rights, Entitlements, and Civil-Society Advocacy’, International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 5(10), pp. 589–597. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2016.50, Doctors of the World  ‘Doctors of the World briefing: Department of Health consultation on further NHS charging – “Making a fair contribution”, 2016; Department of Health ‘Sustaining services, ensuring fairness Government response to the consultation on migrant access and financial contribution to NHS provision in England’ 2013; Equality and Human Rights Commission ‘The lived experiences of access to healthcare for people seeking and

refused asylum’, 2018.Public Health England, Letter to Health Select Committee (March 2017) available in ‘Correspondence regarding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NHS Digital, the Home Office and the Department of Health on data sharing’, 2017. Health and Social Care Select Committee ‘Memorandum of understanding on data-sharing between

NHS Digital and the Home Office: Fifth Report of Session 2017–19’, 2018.

[3] Dianne Taylor ‘Anti-FGM campaigner denied NHS cancer care’ 2019; Denis Campbell ‘I thought they were killing me’: NHS trust halted asylum seeker’s cancer treatment’, 2019; Chaminda Jayanetti ‘Cancer patient died after NHS demanded £30,000 for treatment’, 2018.

[4] Royal College of Physicians ‘Royal colleges support suspension of NHS overseas visitor charges pending review’, 2019.

Tropical Cyclone Idai devastates Mozambique

Published 28th March 2019

On the evening of March 14th, Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique, devastating the coastal province of Sofala with winds of up to 190km/h. Heavy rainfall across the country in the weeks prior to the cyclone – as well as in the days following it- led to catastrophic flooding across the nation. Thousands were left homeless and crops, livestock and infrastructure have been destroyed.

The low-lying port city of Beira, before and after the cyclone hit © MdM

Responding to the crisis

Doctors of the World has been in Mozambique for over 19 years in the province of Maputo and in Cabo Delgado.

When Cyclone Idai hit Southern Africa last week, our staff and volunteers were among the first to mobilise and respond to the unfolding situation. Fighting against blocked roads, electricity shortages and high water levels, our specialist teams established themselves in the areas worst hit. There, they have assessed the damage caused by Cyclone Idai and put in place an urgent intervention plan.

Preparations of the first team before its departure to Mozambique © MdM

Our emergency team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychologists are now situated in the port city of Beira, one of the worst hit areas of Mozambique, where an estimated 90% of the city was damaged or destroyed by the storm.

The situation in Mozambique is still unfolding as the flood waters continue to recede. But the complexity of the response effort is clear: hospitals have been destroyed, and cholera outbreaks have already been recorded due to a lack of clean water. We fear a spread of malaria and dengue as temporary camps are currently housing over 120,000 people.

“The cyclone reportedly killed 417 people, injured thousands and displaced 400,000 in Mozambique”

Our emergency teams are working to help those affected by Cyclone Idai, strengthening the capacity of local health actors in the provision of primary healthcare . Doctors of the World is also establishing a health center to provide medical consultations to 10,000 people over the next 3 months.

Supplies land in Beira to help those affected by the Cyclone © MdM

 

The need for help is far from over for the 1.85 million people who have been affected across Mozambique. We still need your help to reach as many people affected by this natural disaster as possible. Please give generously today.

How your donation could help:

  • £15 could send 14 first-aid kits containing medicines and medical supplied to help those in need.
  • £30 could provide 29 kits to treat cholera and malaria – two of the most prevalent diseases in temporary camps.
  • £50 could help provide water-sanitation equipment, essential to avoid diseases from drinking unsafe water.
  • £100 could allow our medical team to respond urgently and assist more people affected by the cyclone.

 

Statement On The Report Of The Commission Of Inquiry On The 2018 Gaza Protests

Published 25th March 2019

Doctors of the World welcomes the report of the UN independent Commission of Inquiry (CoI) and joins the general condemnation of violence against civilians and in particular that aimed against women, elderly people, children, persons with disabilities, journalists, and healthcare workers.

Since the beginning of the demonstrations in March last year, Doctors of the World has been witnessing first-hand the evident severe impact of the use of live ammunition against civilians and health workers. Almost 7000 injured civilians have challenged the already weakened health system, stretching it to its limits. A large number of them are part of the over 9’000 people currently waiting for surgical care, with 1200 of them at risk of developing osteomyelitis. This is only one aspect that reflects the massive influx of trauma casualties.

Only 20% of those requiring complex surgeries, exclusively available outside of Gaza, have been allowed to exit the strip. Those who have survived very often have to endure life-long consequences of handicap.

In this context, Doctors of the World is also witness of the impact of those disabilities on mental health, as well as of the psychological consequences of all the traumatic experiences of lethal violence Palestinians are exposed to, especially children.

Worried by the unparalleled number of direct attacks against healthcare workers in Gaza, Doctors of the World drafted a public report analysing the particular vulnerability of Palestinian health NGOs. This report was shared with the Commission of Inquiry.

In this report, Doctors of the World observes that Palestinian health NGOs face unprecedented levels of violence against its personnel, structures and ambulances. These attacks and the death of their colleagues have also left strong psychological scars.

Beyond the atrocious violations of international law, the impact of these violations is difficult to quantify or measure through the untold stories of those who died or suffer serious life-long consequences because those who were supposed to help were killed or incapacitated.

Doctors of the World takes thus this opportunity to remind all actors that attacks on healthcare workers, structures and ambulances should never occur: neither in times of peace nor in times of war. They represent serious violations of IHL and IHRL.

Doctors of the World thanks again the CoI for its report and recommends the Human Rights Council and its members to:

  • Condemn all attacks against healthcare personnel, structures and ambulances, and to promote awareness on the importance of their protection.
  • Ensure all violations against healthcare are investigated and hold all perpetrators accountable for the unlawful use of force.
  • Guarantee that all healthcare services and personnel are protected.
  • Remind Israel of its obligation as an occupying force to ensure that the Palestinian population has access to proper medical services and that any obstruction to this right represents a violation of IHL; this includes the free, unimpeded and timely movement of patients and medical staff out of Gaza.
  • Finally, Doctors of the World urges to tackle the root cause, calling for the immediate and unconditional end to the blockade and the closure of the Gaza Strip.

INGO statement on the attacks in Hajjah andrenewed fighting in Hodeidah

Published 14th March 2019

International non-government organisations (INGOs) in Yemen strongly condemn the horrific attacks in Hajjah governorate on Sunday which according to the UN killed 22 people – twelve women and ten children – and injured many more. Hajjah has seen an increase in tensions and fighting in recent weeks; thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and are in need of humanitarian aid and many more are reportedly trapped by the fighting and cannot flee to safety or reach help. These horrific incidents show that innocent civilians including children continue to pay the price for a conflict in which they have no say.

 

As well as attacks in Hajjah, the last few days have seen a major outbreak of violence in Hodeidah city after three months of reduced violence following the Stockholm Agreement and a ceasefire. Over 650,000 people have fled from Hodeidah governorate since June 2018, and those who remain in the city are often the poorest and most vulnerable.

 

This latest fighting is a signal to the world that the four-year conflict in Yemen is far from over. While the fragile UN- led peace process continues and the eyes of the world are on Hodeidah, the international community needs to also pay attention to Hajjah, and other areas of Yemen where violence is increasing. Civilian casualties are reported on a daily basis and thousands continue to be displaced, increasing the risks of famine, cholera and severe malnutrition.

 

We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease hostilities and consider the catastrophic impact this is having on innocent Yemeni civilians. Women and children in particular must be protected from harm, and people who have been forced to flee their homes must be assisted as an urgent priority. Immediate and unimpeded access must be granted so that humanitarian organisations and donor governments can scale up their response and cover the most urgent needs.

 

After four years of war the humanitarian needs in Yemen are of a magnitude higher than ever before, demanding international attention and action. These latest attacks in Hajjah demonstrate the desperate need for peace, and we call on the international community to ensure an independent investigation and to demand that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable.

Global Clinic Crowdfunder

Published 11th March 2019

UPDATE: The Global Clinic will be sent this summer to the Balkans, where it will help provide mental health support to migrants and refugees.
Join the crowd today, and get some amazing rewards!

Support Doctors of the World UK with our groundbreaking project to get portable, durable and safe emergency clinics to those most in need! Find out more and back the project now!

The problem

In refugee camps, natural disaster zones, and conflict situations, healthcare needs are urgent and addressing them is critical. Children, women and men need help treating wounds, both physical and emotional, but local structures are often destroyed or overwhelmed.

Doctors – like the volunteers who work with Doctors of the World – are among the first responders during emergencies, and often the last to leave. However, there are no medical structures that are specifically created for humanitarian medical response needs. Doctors have to work in tents that quickly become ice-cold or sweltering, in unhygienic vans or unwelcoming shipping containers, or in huts that provide no privacy for their patients.

After witnessing these issues in the countries where we work, Doctors of the World felt a call to action. When the Wellcome Collection put out a call for proposals for an architectural installation that addressed a health issue to accompany their Living With Buildings exhibition, we saw an opportunity. We rallied our most experienced medical professionals and worked with a world-class team of architects and engineers to build a solution.

The result is the Global Clinic.

The solution

The Global Clinic is a low-cost, easily-assembled, and durable solution that creates a private and safe space for patients and doctors worldwide.

It has been designed for rapid deployment and long-lasting intervention. The clinic is constructed from 25 pieces of plywood that are CNC machined locally into 298 parts, which are then delivered as a flatpack and assembled in one day, with no need for tools or machinery.

“This is the cutting edge of miracle medical architecture” – TimeOut

Your support will go towards the delivery, construction, and running of the first Global Clinic for patients in need, to be deployed where it is urgently needed. Our team will work with doctors, nurses and patients using the clinics, continually gathering feedback and evaluating how they use the structure so that we can best meet the community’s needs.

Support the Crowdfunder today and help us get the Global Clinic to the field! Find out more and back the project now!

International Women’s Day at the Women and Children’s Clinic – the focus on a fairer world

Published 8th March 2019

Claire, Women’s and Children’s Health Lead

The first organized Women’s Day was held in 1909 in the United States. In 1914, we saw the first march in support of women’s right to vote in London. In the following years, many other countries started to celebrate women’s contributions to society. In 1975 the United Nations started to celebrate International Women’s Day, proclaiming March 8th the day for Women’s Rights and World Peace.

Over time, International Women’s Day has shifted its focus, drawing attention to the hardships women endure in different places around the world, to women’s right to vote, to women’s contributions to society and their extraordinary accomplishments. Every year the theme of IWD changes, and this year we celebrate and call for action for a fairer, more gender-balanced world (#BalanceforBetter).

From a medical perspective, being a woman can have a significant impact on health. This is due to biological factors, but also due to gender related factors. Internationally, the health of women and girls continues to be particularly concerning as they are often discriminated against because of their gender.

Doctors of the World envisage a world without barriers to health, where healthcare is recognised as a fundamental right, for all.

On International Women’s Day, I want to take this opportunity to highlight our work with women in the UK.

Doctors of the World opened its London clinic in 2006, and has run with a special Family Clinic since 2014. Today, it has evolved into our beloved Women and Children’s Clinic, which runs on a weekly basis.

We recognise women and children have very specific vulnerabilities, and those increase when they have no clear legal status. They are more likely to be victims of trafficking, exploitation and abuse, including female genital mutilation. It is also very challenging for these women to seek antenatal and maternity care when they are pregnant. In our clinic, we take the time to assess their personal situation and we work to support them as much as we can. We aim to empower the people we see, providing them with the knowledge and tools to advocate for themselves, so they may improve their personal and their children’s situation where possible and improve their general health.

I am proud to be able to be part of Doctors of the World and I am proud of what Doctors of the World continues to achieve nationally and internationally, standing up for social justice.  In my current role I feel very privileged to be able to support the women we see in our clinic and to continue improving the care we provide.

Seeing the women and children leave our clinic with a renewed smile, reminds me every time on how valuable our work is. We will continue to speak up for those who cannot and to fight for universal and fair access to health care.

Unsung Hero: Sanu

My name is Sanu Nani Magar and I am 48. I come from Ward Number 4 in Dhadingbesi Municipality, Nepal.

I didn’t choose to come here and sort the waste, but life was tough and I needed to find work and to earn money.

My husband and I had several children to take care of and we were struggling to feed and dress them. After looking for work in several places, we ended up here. We earn just enough to survive. Our children are grown now, and we all live in the same house. I’ve had 6 children and 5 of them survived; 4 girls and one boy.

A friend was working on this site sorting the waste. That’s how we found work here. My husband works with me.

It’s really hard and dangerous work. We never know what might happen. There is glass, debris and even needles. We have to be really careful and watch out for ourselves.

As long as the truck comes and unloads, we have work. But when it doesn’t show up, there’s no work. Like on Saturdays, not many trucks come. I work an average of 22 days a month and I make between 400 and 500 rupees.

I live in a house made of corrugated sheeting and it doesn’t have water. We have to go and carry it back from the pump. It’s exhausting.

I would like to have better working conditions and access to water. I’d like to go back to farming like we did before, but we were not earning enough money to survive. I have ideas and dreams of course, but I can’t make them happen. I had thought about opening a small shop. I just don’t have the money.

There are women’s groups where we talk about projects. But it is already hard enough taking care of yourself and your family. There are always problems, everyone has problems. It would be great to set something up with the others but I barely have enough to get by. When you’ve got nothing, people don’t respect you. They don’t even bother to listen.

Sometimes the men drink and overdo it and become violent. We just try to put up with it all, to work hard and to scrape by.

Unsung Hero: Diana

Published 6th March 2019

My name is Diana Patricia Solís. I’m from a small town called Guacarí in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia. I have two sons.

In 1995, I became a victim of sexual violence. I was attacked by a group of several FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) men who live in the valley.

It is very difficult to talk about this because of how you feel after. You feel dirty. Rape makes you feel bad. It’s horrible. Your whole world crumbles. They kept me up in in the mountains for two days and did all sorts to me. I couldn’t defend myself. As a result of the attack, I also contracted a sexually transmitted infection.

I couldn’t say anything because I was afraid of the consequences for my family. I was working for a family in Cali back then and I just told my boss because I was out shopping for breakfast when they took me away. I told my boss because he saw the state I was in when they let me go. I never told my family or my friends.

Doctors of the World really helped me. They taught me to be strong, and now I can talk about the attack in a calmer way. At first, I couldn’t bear speaking about it and would burst into tears. The trainings I completed with staff members such as Sandrita and Marta helped me to understand that it wasn’t my fault and that I was not to blame. I never asked for this to happen.

As I was trying to move on with my life with my sons, I became displaced.

When my eldest son was 20, FARC wanted him to join them but he did not want to go. I wouldn’t have let him either. A close friend told me that my son was going to be killed for turning them down and that we had to get out of there.

That night, when my friend went to work, they killed him. They hung a sign around his neck, calling him a rat because they had found out what he had told me. The next morning, two hooded men on a motorbike stopped me and threatened me. They gave me and my family 24 hours to leave or there would be consequences.

We left with a police escort to a rural area called Sonso. When we arrived in the town, we didn’t know anyone. We were cold, hungry, and desperate. Each one of us had a small bag over our shoulder with a few clothes inside. A woman who could tell that we were displaced helped us out because she had experienced the same thing.

I got a job in a little restaurant, but we continued to struggle financially. I met a man who I thought would help me through this difficult time. It was the worst mistake I ever made. He turned out to be violent and irresponsible. It was awful, I didn’t know how to cope with what was happening.

I used to think I deserved everything that happened to me. I suffered in silence and did not tell anyone. I felt ashamed until I joined the Doctors of the World training here in Guaviare. A psychologist asked me why I had never reported the assault and told me that I could report it and receive psychological support. With Doctors of the World, I learned that I did not deserve any abuse.

I would like to move forward with my life. I want to help train other women who have suffered the same difficulties, the same problems, and try to guide them in the right direction. I want to show them that we should not let anyone abuse us physically or verbally. No man should do that. Nothing justifies it. I want to focus on these women and to equip them with the tools to help them move forward.

I would also really like to work for myself and to start a business, but that’s further down the line. For now, I want to focus on women like me.

 

 

Unsung Hero: Rajwa

Published 5th March 2019

My name is Rajwa Mohamad Rahmoun. I’m from al-Qusayr in the Homs Governorate in Syria.

My children and I came to Lebanon and thankfully we are safe, but I have lost my husband. I do not know where he might be. I don’t know if he is dead or alive. I have no idea.

I suffer so much. As a woman, I cannot defend my rights or the rights of my children. Whatever happens to me I get told “You’re a woman, you cannot speak on this.” But I want to speak out and defend my family. I have to fight constantly.

I try to gather my courage and my strength. When I have something to say, I say it. I don’t want to keep silent; I want to stand up for my rights.

Looking at my children gives me that courage. Just one look at them and I find the patience and the strength to speak out. They make me feel so brave, which enables me to continue fighting for our rights.

Here in Lebanon, my son got into a moped accident and broke his arm and his leg. Everyone blamed me saying it was my fault that he was on the moped in the first place. He was taken to hospital and they charged me 2,000 dollars. I didn’t have 2,000 US dollars, so I had to ask my neighbors to help me pay for my son’s treatment.

On the way to the hospital, I was terrified he would die. But when he told me everything was fine, it gave me the strength to go on and do everything I could to find the the money for his operation.

As a single mother with no husband, I have to constantly raise my voice. I have to be heard so that nobody harms my children.

People say “She’s a woman. Why is she raising her voice? Women should keep quiet. She has sons, they can do the talking.” But it is my responsibility to defend my children. I have to be both the woman and the man. That’s what I keep telling them.

We are treated unjustly on every level here. We used to have our own home, which we lost, and now we have ended up in a refugee camp with nothing. We lost everything. But Praise God, we’re alive. We just have to wait, but this life is so different from the one we had in Syria.

I would like for us to return to Syria. To open my eyes and find myself back home, in our country, that would be my dream.

I dream of my children excelling at everything they do. I believe that they will always make the right choices and succeed in life. That’s what I wish for from the bottom of my heart.

I also wish that women had more rights in life so that they could defend themselves and not have to suffer in silence. Women represent half of society. Women should have more rights. It is women who give life, who raise children, and who keep families together. The woman is the foundation of everything in life.

Without women, there would be nothing.

Unsung Heroes – Powerful stories from across the world

Published 4th March 2019

“Admitting women’s perfect equality would be the greatest hallmark of civilisation, and would double mankind’s intellectual forces”.

Inspired by a desire to bear witness to the violence against women, the Unsung Heroes photography project – by portrait artist Denis Rouvre – gives a voice to women from all over the world. Some are fleeing conflict zones, others are campaigning against the established social order, some had no choice but to carry on, and others have made the decision to take action.

In the run up to International Women’s Day, follow the stories of five women as we unveil a different story each day this week of those who often remain hidden behind statistics and borders…


Unsung Heroes means listening to the most challenging stories: the emotional, physical and institutional violence perpetrated against millions of women. At the same time, it is a call from the movements which are driving change. It demonstrates the commitment of ordinary women from all over the world who are fighting for women’s fundamental rights to be respected.

All 60 portraits and testimonies are produced throughout 2018 and 2019 and will lead to an exhibition which will immerse the viewer in the lives of the women through their stories, combining photos with written and oral contributions. The project will be on show in France in autumn 2019 before being taken on a world tour in 2020.

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