Portraits of War


The average lifespan of a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo is 46 years.


Congo/Women is a traveling photography exhibition highlighting the beauty and strength of the girls and women of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a group of girls and women who currently face an unprecedented wave of gender-based violence and a lack of essential medical care.


Featuring the work of Lynsey AddarioMarcus BleasdaleRon Haviv, and James Nachtwey, the installation weaves together large portraits of Congolose women and contextual images of the region’s culture and history along with explanatory essays. The result of this combination is a touring project which depicts the complexity of the situation and incites viewers to act.


Video and audio testimonies also accompany the exhibition, allowing viewers to gain an in-depth understanding of the crisis.


Congo/Women discusses the effects of such gender violence, which include pregnancy as a result of rape, obstetric and traumatic fistula, HIV infection, permanent reproductive health damage, and death. In addition to these conditions, the exhibition presents the inevitable societal stresses caused by such atrocities. Curated from a combination of existing photography and newly-commissioned work—particularly of women and girls recovering from violence—the exhibit provides a comprehensive view of the issue and its possible solutions.


The exhibition is accompanied by a website that lists the immediate actions viewers can take in order to show their support for women and girls in the DRC. For example, visitors to the site and to the exhibition can post their own portraits on our visual petition and stand with these survivors. In doing so, individuals demonstrate a call for action to the  international community.


Hosting institutions’ own local connections and a network of human rights groups work to promote media attention to the touring exhibition and associated events.


Congo/Women is produced in partnership with the Ellen Stone Belic Institute of the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, Columbia College Chicago.


Congo/Women is generously supported in part by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Humanity Unitedthe Oak Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Leadership donors of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, Columbia College Chicago.




Congo/Women – Brussels

March 4, 2014 | European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium



February 1, 2013 | Illinois College

In partnership with the Leadership Program at Illinois College