Georgian Women Photographers to Focus on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Date: Saturday, September 24, 2016

What is sexual harassment in the workplace? How can be sexual harassment captured by means of photography? What ethical considerations should be taken into account when working on such sensitive issue? How to technically capture and edit a picture, so that it talks directly and unambiguously to the viewer? These and other questions were discussed at a workshopheld at the outskirts of the Tbilisi Photo Festival (September 21 – 24, 2016), and led by the British Photographer Alixandra Fazzina, a well-accomplished and an award winning member of Noor Photo Agency and Foundation.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Photography Workshop; Photo: UN Women
Eight Georgian female photographers, who document various social, political and environmental issues, have discussed sexual harassment at work place - frequently unrecognized and underreported problem, also with UN Women Programme Specialist Tamar Sabedashvili. She highlighted how sexual harassment can lead to irreparable damages in women’s lives, but also negatively impact on overall performance of enterprises and institutions. While other inequalities in the work place can be relatively easily captured by data (such as gender wage gap, percentage of women as compare to men in managerial positions, number of men and women promoted during given period of time) sexual harassment is difficult to detect, report, effectively address and prevent.A significant part of the problem is public tolerance to inappropriate behavior and persistent gender stereotypes. The problem is, however, common, and no country can say that have eradicated sexual harassment at work place completely.

“Documentary and artistic photography can greatly contribute to uncovering unseen or taboo topics” noted Mzia Saganelidze, a participant of the workshop. “Many of us may fail to realize that have been exposed to sexual harassment, because we are simply used to sexist remarks or behavior. It is, however, time to start questioning what is and what is not appropriate communication between colleagues at work place, and try also to visualize it. The workshop has definitely helped to realize that the problem exists and is unaddressed. Picturing sexual harassment at work place in non-explicit way is not an easy task. Yet,I strongly believe that photography has the power to speak about everything”.

“We know each other, but have never before worked as a team,” said Leli Blagonravova. A photographer who is known for her work in covering human rights and social issues. “I believe we can do a lot together to raise awareness of the problem. We plan continue working on our ideas developed during the workshop and present our works to public later this year”.

“We planto benefit from creative ideas presented in the end of the workshop. We aim at bringing the issue –captured through the eyes of Georgian female photographers, to the places where the photos will speak out -- including to law-makers and employers. We know, it can be powerful and empowering. We have done it before and learned that art, including photography, can help to acceleratea positive change in lives of women”, commented Erika Kvapilova, UN Women Country Representative.

Tbilisi Photo Festival (since 2010), is one of the most important international cultural events in the South Caucasus. Each year, the festival attracts internationally renowned photographers, experts of photography, curators, and photo editors of international magazines and newspapers, and it hosts exhibitions of top-class photographers, educational events, and a popular event known as the Night of Photography in the capital of Georgia. Tbilisi Photo Festival aims to raisepublic awareness of social, economic and political issues through the use of photography. The cooperation between UN Women and Tbilisi Photo Festival began in 2015., when UN Women supported a round table that brought together prominent female photographers from several countries, titled “Are women changing photography?”