“25 Women” storytelling project, a part of the Generation Equality campaign for UN Women
#GenerationEquality campaign for UN Women
I traveled to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to profile a selection of female role-models for the “25 Women” storytelling project, a part of the Generation Equality campaign and released on this year’s International Women’s Day.

Below is a selection of photos I took of these inspiring women who embody the 12 critical areas of concern for Beijing+25. In addition to taking still photos, I also shot and edited video and conducted interviews that I used to write profile pieces for UN Women’s website and social media.

People in Tajikistan say that “A woman has 40 lives”.

These are stories from two inspirational women from Tashkent and Balkhi settlement.

Gulbahor’s eyes are so sad as if they saw many more than 40 lives. But she can quickly hide all her sadness and all her pain behind a smile and kind wrinkles. And then true power and strength start showing in her eyes. Uguloy is a woman from a Tajik province who fights for every inch of fertile soil and available water. She is asked to run for the local council in the upcoming elections in March. And she has no doubts about whether to run or not. She will run because she wants to bring light to her village and build lamp posts on the roads.


Ana is a social worker from Serbia who advocates for the rights of Roma women, fighting prejudice and discrimination. In 2005 she founded the Osvit (Dawn) Roma Association, an NGO, which supports and promotes women's interests throughout the community and beyond. Malina heads a “Save the Village” association which nurtures village traditions and is engaged in the production and processing of agricultural products. “A small step to big changes” - that’s Serbian blogger Ekaterina Yakovleva’s own modest assessment of her contribution to the global eco-movement. A year ago she made a polyester net bag to shop for fruit and vegetables and to be used instead of disposable plastic bags. Now the whole of Serbia uses her eco-bags.

Mrika, a girl from Peja Kosovo, is the youngest person in the world to climb the seven highest peaks of all seven continents.

Lyubov Vorontsova, a human rights activist from Alma-Ata fights stigma and breaks down stereotypes about people living with HIV. Veronika Fonova invited girls from an initial community to form a group in which only women could participate. That’s how KazFem was formed; and Veronica’s activist life began. The goal of KazFem is to create a platform that supports activism in Kazakhstan, to popularize the ideas of feminism in the Kazakh environment, and to protect women who have experienced any kind of discrimination or violence.


Adalet Budak is a women’s rights activist from Turkey, where she coordinates the GAP Scholarship Project, which has been helping thousands of young women from the Southeastern Anatolia Region to get a proper education. Gupse Ozay, 35, is a comedian, actress, screenplay writer and film director in Istanbul, Turkey. Despite the fact that comedy was always male dominated in Turkish cinema, she followed her passion and wrote, played and directed her own comedy movies that became a huge success. Bahar Toksoy Guidetti is a volleyball player who lifted many trophies during her career. She contributes to girls’ empowerment through sport in her summer academy, striving to leave a positive mark on their lives.

Challenging traditions and changing the community
Photographer: Daria Komleva / UN Women
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