Turning girls into women: rural Africa photographed

For his photography post this month, Louis Kleynhans decided to bring tribute to the young women he shot on a UN project. The women and girls photographed are mainly from Mozambique, and while they work hard to support their families, many of them should still be playing with their siblings instead of being homemakers. For more photos from this series, view the gallery here.

By Louis Kleynhans

This Women’s Month, I decided to highight photos that I shot for the United Nations of the beautiful women who work in rural areas across our continent.


Sadly, you can’t talk about these “women” without talking about the girls – which is what many of them are. The children in less developed communities lose out on their childhood. The images above of the two girls fetching water for their homes at the local well and pump were taken at Macanetta Island, Mozambique.


In the cities, are are so used to openeing a tap and having water be available. The first thing these girls do in the morning when they wake up is fetch water. Their family then uses it to wash, cook and do dishes.

At lunch, they fetch more water, and by the end of the day they would have been back and forth a few more times. The women who use pumps spend about three hours a day fetching water, but those who are not fortunate enough to have use of a pump take far longer.


The children that do go to school have to get up before sunrise to do their water-fetching duties – and they will finish long after dark. Besides for the water, they collect firewood and look after younger siblings – often basically raising them.


It’s basically a form of slavery – and their burdens could be lightened so much by simply supplying them with running water. They spend their entire days – lives – working and going to school. In the rural areas we visited, it was very rare to see young girls playing outside. It’s an incredibly sad sight.


So, I’d like to salute all these women on Women’s Day and in Women’s Month – women who should still be girls.