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.”

Artist Bios

  • Amy Toensing

    Amy Toensing

    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 on Crisis Reporting

    The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

    The Pulitzer Center’s mission is to champion the power of stories to make complex issues relevant and inspire action. Founded in 2006, the Center is an essential source of support for enterprise reporting in the United States and globally. The thousands of journalists and educators in our networks span more than 80 countries, and our work reaches tens of millions of people each year through our news-media partners. The journalism we support covers the world’s biggest challenges today, from the environment and global health to human rights and artificial intelligence.


 archive : 2017

Featuring: Amy Toensing

Curated by: Jordan Roth

Presented by: The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
  • The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting


View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Number 1 on the official photoville map Click to download this year's map

This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Explore other locations and exhibitions nearby

Related Events

Sep 172017

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

This website was made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Photowings