In many regions of the world, widowhood marks a ‘social death’ for a woman, casting her and her children out to the margins of society. In these cultures, a woman is often defined by her relationship to a man: first she is a daughter, then a wife. When her husband dies, she becomes an outcast. Commonly uneducated and without the ability to support herself, she is often targeted with abuse. Even when these women stand to inherit land or money, they don’t know their rights and their in-laws chase her off and keep any assets. Sometimes she becomes an object of ‘inheritance’ herself.
In 2011, the United Nations recognized the condition of widows as a global issue and declared June 23 as International Widows’ Day with a statement from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “No woman should lose her status, livelihood or property when her husband dies, yet millions of widows in our world face persistent abuse, discrimination, disinheritance and destitution.”
Amy Toensing, an American photojournalist committed to telling stories with sensitivity and depth, is known for her intimate essays about the lives of ordinary people.
Toensing has been a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine for nearly two decades and recently completed her fifteenth feature story for the publication. She has covered cultures around the world, including the last cave dwelling tribe of Papua New Guinea, Aboriginal Australia, the Maori of New Zealand and the Kingdom of Tonga.
Amy began her professional career in 1994 as a staff photographer at her hometown paper, The Valley News, in New Hampshire. She then worked for The New York Times’ Washington D.C. bureau, covering the White House and Capitol Hill during the Clinton administration. In 1998, Toensing left D.C. to receive her Master’s Degree from the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University.
Toensing was named the recipient of the 2018 Mike Wallace Fellowship in Investigative Reporting at the University of Michigan, where she will study the impact of women’s movements globally and documentary film production. Her work on widows, published in the February 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine, will be exhibited at the 2017 Visa Pour L’image.
The Pulitzer Center raises awareness of underreported global issues through direct support for quality journalism across all media platforms and a unique program of education and public outreach. We support over 200 reporting projects a year, in partnership with more than 150 news organizations with an increasing focus on regional and local outlets to ensure we are reaching diverse audiences. We are raising awareness of the interconnected nature of the greatest challenges of our times and pointing to possible solutions. We serve global public-interest journalism by engaging wide audiences on deeply reported topics and inspiring the next generation to value credible news and cross-cultural understanding.
Featuring: Amy Toensing
Curated by: Jordan Roth
LocationsView Location Details Download a detailed map of this location Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza
1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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A Conversation on Widowhood
In many regions of the world widowhood marks a “social death” for a woman – casting her and her children out to the margins of society. Photojournalist Amy Toensing and National Geographic’s Deputy Director of Photography, Whitney Johnson, discuss the project, A Life After Loss, that looks at the status of widows In Uganda, Bosnia, and India.Learn More