WaterAid and award-winning Indian transmedia artist and activist Poulomi Basu have launched a dynamic new dystopian photo series, Sisters of the Moon, to show how the lack of clean water and toilets limits the power and potential of women and girls .
The ecofeminist work, commissioned by international charity WaterAid, explores the energy and strength of women and the importance of water and sanitation in helping them realize their potential as a force for change. Sisters of the Moon is inspired by the women and girls Poulomi has encountered over more than a decade of her previous work, including collaborative assignments with WaterAid, as well as her own experience of being raised in a patriarchal home in Kolkata where her mother and grandmother were child brides.
The series explores issues affecting women and girls around the world, such as gender-based violence, menstrual taboos and climate change. Rather than focusing on a specific country, Poulomi chose to create a fictional dystopian world in a beautiful, barren landscape. from Iceland. She placed herself in the photographs as a way to connect her own struggles with those of women and girls in the South, using her body as a canvas to confront the politics of race, representation and environmental justice.
Sisters of the Moon is released to support WaterAid’s Thirst for Knowledge appeal, which will bring clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to homes and schools around the world, helping to ensure girls have a chance equal to learn in dignity and safety. The UK Government will match public donations made by February 15, 2022 up to £2million, helping to bring these lifesaving facilities to an additional 28,000 people and 30 schools in Nepal’s Bardiya district.
The 14 striking images include a bed submerged in water, inspired by women Poulomi met in Bangladesh who live on the frontlines of climate change and whose homes have been lost and many flooded due to rising sea levels. Water containers float by the bed, highlighting how the climate crisis is a water crisis, with floods contaminating water supplies and droughts drying them up.
One photo shows a woman in a red veil walking towards a burning hut. The fiery image alludes to the challenge against the practice of ‘chaupadi’ in parts of Nepal, where women are forced to isolate themselves during their time when they are considered unclean.
In another photo, women carry pots of water across snowy, rocky terrain, reflecting the difficult journeys millions of girls make every day to fetch water. One in ten people have no water near their homes, and women and girls are responsible for collecting water in four out of five households with water outside the premises, often going long journeys through remote and difficult terrain, putting their safety at risk and leaving little space. time to go to school or earn a living.
A fourth image shows a girl covered in blood with textbooks strewn around her, raising awareness that one in three schools worldwide lack decent toilets or a basic water supply. This lack of basic facilities affects girls disproportionately, as many often miss classes during their period if there is no decent toilet or even drop out of school altogether when they reach puberty, which has an impact on their lives and their future.
Poulomi Basu, who was shortlisted for the prestigious Deutsche Börse Prize in 2021 and won multiple awards for her photobook, Centralia, said:
“Sisters of the Moon explores our global water crisis and the challenges of environmental and ecological change, and how these intersect with gender equality. about my own family life in India to present an ecofeminist tale in which women seem powerful, but their real power has been restrained and controlled.
“Girls shouldn’t have to spend hours every day collecting water for their families; they should be in school to study. Menstruation must not hold them back because they do not have decent toilets or adequate sanitary kits. If you deny women access to water and toilets, you take away their power. Having clean water close to home and at school not only means women and girls can spend more time in education, it means they can take charge of their lives and livelihoods. subsistence. I believe that women have an incredible ability to change the world, and it is important that their fundamental human rights are respected so that they can make their voices heard and reach their full potential.
Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid, said:
“Poulomi Basu’s thought-provoking photo series shows how fundamental clean water and decent sanitation are to addressing gender inequality and helping people overcome poverty. If these basic human rights are respected, girls can stay in school, women have time to earn a living, and entire communities can be healthier while building resilience to the effects of climate change.
“By supporting WaterAid’s Thirst for Knowledge appeal, the public can help provide clean water, toilets and good hygiene to communities around the world, transforming lives for generations to come. With matching donations from the UK Government of up to £2million, people’s support will make double the difference this winter.
For Sisters of the Moon, Poulomi worked with Edda Guðmundsdóttir who dresses Icelandic singer Björk and the makeup was done by Sunna Björk. The clothes she is wearing in the photographs were donated by designers Iris van Herpen, Jivomir Domoustchiev, Aziz Rebar and Richard Malone.
To find out more visit: www.wateraid.org/uk/sistersofthemoon
Photos are available for download here: https://wateraid.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-wateraid/images/assetbox/a953bc97-b613-428d-8321-88a59b0ebd9c/assetbox.html
Interview and images of Poulomi Basu on site in Iceland available here: Sisters of the Moon – Poulomi Basu x WaterAid | water aid
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Notes to editors:
Poulomi Basu is an Indian transmedia artist, photographer and activist whose work advocating for women’s rights has received wide attention. Born and raised in India, Poulomi spent her formative years in Kolkata, drawing inspiration early on from the city’s cinematic history. Her work explores how identity formation intersects with geopolitics to reveal the deep and often hidden power structures in our societies.
In 2020, she was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s prestigious Hood Medal for her transmedia work, Blood Speaks, which put menstrual rights on the international agenda and brought about major political change. She has exhibited internationally and is a National Geographic Society Explorer, Sundance Fellow and Magnum Foundation Fellow. She runs Just Another Photo Festival, a traveling guerrilla visual media festival that democratizes photography by bringing it to everyday people and creating new audiences. His first book, Centralia (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2020), was the winner of the Discovery Award 2020 at the Rencontres d’Arles and nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2021. His work is publicly collected by the Victoria and Albert Museum London, Autograph, Rencontres D’Arles, MoMa (Special Collections).
Poulomi has worked with WaterAid since 2014 on projects exploring the impact of lack of clean water and toilets on girls. She covered issues such as violence against women, menstrual taboos and sanitation work. Poulomi has worked with the charity on its To Be A Girl campaign which has raised £2million to build toilets and provide 130,000 girls with reusable sanitary kits. In 2020, she was one of 10 visual artists commissioned by WaterAid to create an artwork celebrating the 10th anniversary of the declaration of water and sanitation as a human right by the UN.
UK Aid Match
The UK government will match donations made to WaterAid’s Thirst for Knowledge appeal between November 16, 2021 and February 15, 2022, up to £2 million. With matching funding, WaterAid will work with local partners in the Bardiya district of Nepal to build new sustainable school water systems, decent toilets and drinking water stations with handwashing facilities in 30 schools , allowing children to wash, drink and go to the toilet easily. toilet without missing a class. Arrangements will be made for girls to manage their periods in a safe and hygienic way, so that they no longer worry about missing out on education or fetching water.
WaterAid strives to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international non-profit organization works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets.
For more information visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter: @WaterAidUK @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.
771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have safe drinking water near their homes.1 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a toilet clean.2
About 290,000 children under the age of five die each year from diarrheal diseases caused by lack of water and sanitation. That’s over 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.3 Every £1 invested in water and toilets yields an average of £4 in increased productivity.4 Just £15 can provide drinking water to a person.5
WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2020. Joint monitoring program. Geneva: World Health Organization. WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2020. Joint monitoring program. Geneva: World Health Organization. WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene for selected adverse health outcomes: an updated analysis focusing on low- and middle-income countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. World Health Organization (2012) Global Costs and Benefits of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Interventions to Achieve the MDG Target and Universal Coverage www.wateraid.org