- The Strength of Saharawi Women
Take a look at a photo essay by photojournalist Raffaele Petralla. Petralla’s examination of life in refugee camps in the Sahara desert comes through in these stunning photographs that showcase the daily life of women of the Sahara.
Sahara woman has always played a fundamental role in her own society, that indeed is a matriarchal one.
During the war against Morocco (1975-1991) women have been forced to run away and refugee in the most hostile part of Sahara desert: the Hammada.
Without any kind of help from men, who were engaged in the battles many kilometers from there, Saharawi women have been able to organize the community life in the refugees camps, where a part of the Saharawi population is still living( about 250.000 persons). They took charge both of the logistic, through the construction of tends, houses, schools, hospitals and the political, social and cultural dimension.
In fact nowdays,lot of them are in charge of important institutional assignments and all of them take part at the women meetings that are often very influent in many governative decisions.
They wish their population could return in the territory they were forced to leave and where their relatives are still living under occupation; they are also divided from a 2400 km wall surrounded by mines built by Morocco in order to deny them the possibilty to return to their own country.
I spent two months in a refugee camp as a guest, where I focused my photographic research on the Saharawi women realizing a series of environmental portraits and about 50 interviews.