Too Far to Walk is a maternal mortality story. It’s a story of the women of West Pokot and their struggle to stay alive, to survive childbirth, a right all women should have. On average, one woman or girl dies due to complications from childbirth every two minutes. 75% of these deaths could be prevented with access to low-cost basic sexual and reproductive healthcare.
The women of West Potok in Kenya suffer disproportionately from poor access to health services, discrimination, and at times, victimization by harmful traditions. Many of them are affected by Female Genital Cutting (FGC), early marriage and early motherhood. Each of these practices can result in a variety of harmful complications to both babies and mothers. Kenya is considered the most dangerous place in the world to be pregnant.
In West Pokot, women have to walk miles to reach any type of maternal health care, then when they arrive and they find there’s no electricity, no doctor, no midwife, no nurse. More than 360,000 women die in childbirth every year and 98% of those deaths are preventable.
In this day and age with the #metoo movement reshaping the modern conversation around gender and fairness, the women of West Pokot need their story told.
Too Far to Walk aims to find the middle ground between news and documentary; where the viewer will be both informed and challenged into action.
It has been a privilege to judge the inaugural Me&EVE Award for women over 40. It is refreshing to see an award supporting work by women in mid-career. The quality of the work was very high. It was clear that these women photographers brought tremendous experience, commitment, and passion to their projects.They covered a wide range of subjects.
Of particular note were the photo essays on maternal mortality in Kenya; poverty, homelessness, and the working class in the U.S.; Gold Star families in the U.S.; teen pregnancy in Rwanda; and water pollution in Texas. There were strong documentary photo essays addressing ongoing international crises such as migration, displaced persons, and refugee camps. Some of the portfolios dealt with very personal stories, such as a man's struggle with schizophrenia, a girl's ongoing medical journey dealing with a spinal condition, and a series of still lives illustrating a year of personal vulnerability. Some of the submissions were features representing contemporary life, such as a series of portraits of interracial families and a series of formal portraits of fast food workers.
The high level of quality and diversity of subjects made the task of choosing one photographer quite a challenge. I chose Lori Hawkins for the Award for her powerful photo essay documenting the issue of maternal mortality in West Pokot, Kenya, titled 'Too Far to Walk'. This difficult subject is vividly portrayed with clarity and empathy by Hawkins. She tells this important story with sensitivity and boldness.
There is clearly an abundance of strong work being done by women over 40. It is wonderful to know that the Me&EVE Award will bring attention to this work.