From my first assignment in the Fall of 2001, I was captivated by the people and places of Afghanistan after I was sent by Getty Images to document the invasion under the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom. I crossed the border into a country whose diverse cultures, landscapes and geographies were utterly compelling and challenging at the same time. Over the next decade, I would keep returning to Afghanistan to visually report on this war-torn country. As a female photojournalist working in a conservative Islamic country, I sought to provide an intimate and challenging perspective on how Afghan women conduct their daily lives. The country still has a long way to go, women’s rights were guaranteed under the new post-Taliban constitution but there remains a large gap in terms of what is actually practiced. There are still laws in place in many areas of the country where the female populace is commonly barred from being seen unless they are fully veiled by the Afghan burqa. For most Afghan women, the country remains far from an equal open society especially outside the capital of Kabul where conservative values still prevail.
On a positive note as changes continue to unfold in this year’s historical Presidential election there are indications that women have taken some positive steps forward with a more active role in politics. There is excitement in helping to create positive change for their country. Approximately 2.5 million names were added during the voter registration period amongst them over half were women which is significant.
Paula Bronstein’s many nominations and awards span decades and represent only a small space in what is simply a lifetime of phenomenal frontline news and documentary photography across the globe. She sits alongside the most important female photographers of our modern time, as a multiple nominee and award winner of contests including The Pulitzer, Pictures of The Year International, The National Press Photographer’s Association and most recently Days Japan. She has judged for The World Press Photo Award, exhibited extensively, and given interviews herself for the media in the US, Australia, and across Asia. With over 30 years of experience as staff for a variety of U.S newspapers including Getty Images news wire Paula’s images have been published in almost every globally recognized publication. Her work reflects a dedicated humanitarian and visual war correspondent finding moments nobody else would dare look for. She continues to photograph presidents and kings, natural disasters, political turmoil and conflict, and always the most impoverished and vulnerable people on this earth, from Mongolia to Afghanistan and Africa. Paula is currently freelance, represented by Reportage / Getty Images.