artist photo


"Making change happen involves transition, from exclusion to inclusion, from inequality to equality...and from tradition to adaptation. All of these have to do with passing the torch from grandmothers to mothers to daughters..."


Generations of Women: Mahnaz's Selections


Jeju Grannies of the Sea

I loved the vitality of the women reflected in this series, which captures granny-aged women divers on Jeju Island who dive for seaweed and shellfish for their own economic survival.  Go to the selection >>

Generations of Bhutanese Weavers

I chose these images for their portrayal of how young Bhutanese women have engaged in weaving as a way of creating an economy of their own through traditional crafts.  Go to the selection >>

Embrace Your Age

Nikas’s photo series finds beauty in women of all ages – from seven to 106. By focusing on the joy, peace and energy that reflects the beauty of the women of various ages, Nikas helps us to reexamine our fixation on beauty as the exclusive domain of the young.  Go to the selection >>

Without Borders

Bayan’s essay describes the multinational, multicultural upbringing which many young people experience today and tells of how such a life expanded her outlook and enriched her vision of the possibilities life offers.  Go to the selection >>

Learning from the Past

Although Sahar is facing a severe financial crisis as a soon-to-be college graduate, she is finding strength to face what comes from her mother’s and her grandmother’s stories of the struggles and successes of their education.  Go to the selection >>

Singing for Change

When the family unit and women’s rights came under siege by the Algerian judicial system ruling of the Family Code in 1984, Algerian women of all generations came together to sing for justice.  Go to the selection >>

Peace Begins with Me and You

Nishikura’s video explores her search for identity and politics as young woman born from two conflicting nations (Japan and the US) into another era of war (with Iraq). Her solution for peace? “We must take individual responsibility. The seeds of peace are within us. Peace begins with me and you.”  Go to the selection>>

Women Working for Women

María María Acha uses the medium of posters to share women’s history publicly. Her mini-biographies of global feminists and women leaders are presented in comic-book style, allowing for women’s history to be accessible and entertaining.  Go to the selection >>

Drawing Democracy Worldwide

I selected these drawings because of the variety of ways in which youth from around the world visualize what democracy means to them and the essential wisdom of how they picture democracy.  Go to the selection >>

Raising Me

Willis’s poem is a touching tribute that details the life of a Mississippi mother/daughter/niece/sister/cousin and honors the women of the world.  Go to the selection >>

Curator's Statement: Mahnaz Afkhami on Generations

Writing stories with my granddaughter opened me to her world of endless possibility. My childhood world was one of small wonders and many limits; hers is open-ended. We spend a lot of time opening windows into each of our worlds for one another. We share a desire for change and the willingness to do what it takes.


An exciting part of my work at Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) is daily contact with women and girls in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Around the world, women are facing and overcoming challenges that are part of transitions. Making change happen involves transition—from exclusion to inclusion, from inequality to equality, from gendered spaces to openness, from hierarchical to participatory leadership, and from tradition to adaptation. 


All of these have to do with passing the torch from grandmothers to mothers to daughters. We grandmothers that have lived lives that were slower, quieter, less connected, and much more dependent on face-to-face contact have to look at the world through the eyes of our daughters and granddaughters. For the next generation, friends can be men and women you have never actually seen but who are in constant contact, who live in all corners of the world, to whom knowledge comes not only from schools and books but from seeing, hearing, and accessing the world’s libraries and visual treasuries online. 


In many places where WLP works, the majority of the population is below the age of thirty. Transitions happen almost automatically. The granddaughters teach us how to reach out to their world. Older generations offer the depth of experience that comes from a more leisurely relationship with time and space. In the industrialized world, several generations are in the work force simultaneously. The excitement comes from seeing the differences and the similarities of inter-generational exchanges and the tensions, excitement, and humor that is involved in this reciprocity between generations. This is how change happens and how transitions come about. It has been an exciting experience choosing the words, images and sounds that are aspects of the rich tapestry of generations in the family, workplace, leisure, activism and individual self-reflection.


About Mahnaz Afkhami

Mahnaz Afkhami has been a leading advocate of women's rights for more than three decades. She is founder and President of the Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), an international organization that empowers women by developing and using culturally appropriate curricula in twenty languages to train women (currently in forty countries) to become leaders by seeking and taking on decision making roles in politics, business, and civil society. She serves on the boards and steering committees of several international organizations, including the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch; the World Movement for Democracy; and chairs the Global Council of the International Museum of Women. Prior to the Islamic revolution in Iran, she taught English literature at the National University of Iran, where she founded the Association of University Women. She served as Secretary General of the Women's Organization of Iran and Iran's Minister for Women's Affairs. Among the books and manual Afkhami has written or edited are Women in Exile; Faith and Freedom: Women's Human Rights in the Muslim World; In the Eye of the Storm: Women in Post-revolutionary Iran; Leading to Action: A Political Participation Handbook for Women; and Victories Over Violence: Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls, many of which have been translated into several languages and are used in countries across the world. Mahnaz currently resides in Maryland, USA with her husband Gholam Reza Afkhami. She has a son, Asef Babak Afkhami, and two grandchildren.