The inspiration for change and to act as a catalyst for people to personally get involved are two things you write as important to Photography 4 Humanity. What examples come to mind of people being moved to act?
One example that immediately comes to mind, is this year’s Top 10 Finalist image entitled “Freedom in Freedom” that depicts women in Iran celebrating at a soccer game at Azadi Stadium in Tehran. For the first time since 1980, Iranian women are allowed to watch football in the same stadium as men. For roughly 40 years, the Islamic republic had barred female spectators from football and other stadiums with clerics arguing that women must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and the sight of semi-clad men. This shift in rules was the result of protests that gained global attention and increased public pressure on FIFA, who after years of lobbying, left open the possibility of banning Iran from qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup.
This was a historic moment for Iranian women and very personal for photographer, Maryam Majd, a long-term sports photographer and documentarian who has fought for women’s rights and the right of women to enter the stadium in Iran for many years. In 2011, Maryam was herself arrested because she was the only Iranian female photographer to receive accreditation and an invitation by FIFA to take part in the Women’s FIFA World Cup in Germany.
While women were allowed into the stadium that day, for some reason unknown to Maryam, women photographers were not allowed to photograph the game, and she needed to sneak her camera into the stadium to take photos from the crowd. For Maryam, this photo is not just a photo of football fans but a captured moment of the screams and cries of excitement from voices that were silenced for 40 years. Shouts of freedom reigned throughout Azadi Stadium, which ironically translates to Freedom Stadium – Freedom in Freedom.