Woman's Work

A displaced mother and daughter beg for food in India, where women and children make up 75 percent of refugees. A homeless Ethiopian woman clutches her baby, fighting the chill of winter from the newborn's tiny body. A woman slaves away on a plantation in south Asia.

The images are often graphic and unsettling, but to the U.S. Committee for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), they're not just powerful, they're necessary. Several photos depicting women and children in developing countries -- and often in perilous situations -- make up the "Family of Woman" exhibition, which opens at Gammage Auditorium in Tempe on Monday, August 30, and runs through October 31.

The traveling exhibition, sponsored by the Committee, is set to coincide with the final presidential debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush at Gammage on October 13, and stops just short of the November presidential election. While the Committee itself has decried the Bush administration for withholding funding for international health care, the show's curators say the exhibition sends a bipartisan message.

"This is an issue that affects both Republicans and Democrats," says J'Lein Liese, co-chair of the Arizona Friends of UNFPA, which was responsible for bringing the exhibition to the Valley. "We're not going to influence Bush when he's here, but people will understand what it's like to be a woman outside of this country."

In addition to the exhibition, Stephen Lewis, the U.N. AIDS Envoy to Africa, will speak at Gammage on September 21. The free speech will touch on the devastating effects of AIDS on African women.

"A lot of Americans aren't aware of what's going on in the world," Liese says. "We as women have no idea how good we've got it. We have no right to complain."

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Ashlea Deahl