The Norman Transcript

N-town stories

April 12, 2013

OU photography exhibit empowers women and girls

NORMAN —

“In every culture I went to around the world, women and girls work hard getting the water and firewood, taking care of kids, cooking and growing the food,” photographer Phil Borges said.

“They do the majority of the work and I’d see a lot of men hanging out and sometimes just drinking all day. Because of their work responsibilities, girls were not chosen to go to school.”

Borges has documented many of these lives on film and in words which will be the subject the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art exhibition “Stirring the Fire,” April 13 through July 28.

For over a quarter century Borges has lived with and documented indigenous and tribal cultures here and around the globe. His work’s goal has been to create a heightened understanding of the issues faced by people in the developing world.

“Stirring the Fire” is an exhibition of photographs and multimedia documentaries created to raise awareness about the struggles of women and girls worldwide. It’s also a Seattle-based organization with full time staff that organizes social documentary training and student advocacy programs.

In his book “Women Empowered: Inspiring change in the emerging world” with forward by Madeleine Albright, Borges documents women who have overcome patriarchy and intolerance to make positive change in their communities.

“I believe that education is the most successful strategy for empowering women,” Borges said. “An educated girl will usually not have kids or get married at age 12.”

It’s been documented that when women are educated they have fewer children and the mortality rate of their offspring drops. Babies are healthier and the tradition of learning is passed on. Awareness of opportunities and choices in life are increased. Education for females often goes unfunded in many parts of the world and in a few extreme examples has even been forbidden.

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