Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence

  Low Income Women Speak Out through Photovoice Projects

The Projects:

Poverty: Our Voices, Our Views (Winnipeg)

Looking Out/Looking In: Women, Poverty and Public Policy (Saskatoon)

Prince Albert Photovoice Project

Regina Photovoice Project

What is PhotoVoice?

PhotoVoice is a participatory action research method pioneered by Carolyn Wang.

PhotoVoice is a process that enables community members to produce photographs to document their experiences.

The photographs become the basis for group discussion of community issues and concerns.

The photographs and words become tools for social change, by providing resources to raise consciousness and influence policymakers.


Public policies have a big impact on the lives and health of women living in poverty. Yet low-income women are rarely given a voice in shaping these policies. In the fall of 2005, Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence began working on two projects to address this situation, in partnership with two community-based organizations, the Winnipeg North End Women's Centre and the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition. Together we initiated photovoice projects with small groups of low-income women in Winnipeg and Saskatoon.

Low-income women are often subject to careful scrutiny and surveillance by others. Rather than putting them under the lens, photovoice puts them behind the lens and allows others to see the world through their eyes.

In each project, women received training from a professional photographer and discussed the ethics of taking pictures of other people. Then each woman was given a disposable camera and encouraged to use the camera to take pictures that would represent her experiences of living in poverty, the barriers and the supports found in her community, and the policies and programs she would like to change or keep.

After taking their photographs, the women met several times to share their pictures with each other and to talk about what the photos meant to them. These discussions were used them as the basis for creating captions for each photograph. Each woman selected which of her photographs and words she wanted to include in a public display. The photographs were then enlarged and mounted for display.

Private showings were held in each city for the photographers, their families and close friends. These events were followed by public showings of the women's work. In Winnipeg, the photovoice exhibit, entitled Poverty: Our Voices, Our Views, was on display at the University of Winnipeg during the MayWorks events on May 1, 2006. In Saskatoon, the photovoice exhibit, entitled Looking Out/Looking In: Women, Poverty and Public Policy was launched at the SCYAP Gallery on May 9, 2006 and remained on display until May 31.The Regina project display, PhotoVoice: Freedom from Poverty, opened for display on October 17, 2007, the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty, at the Albert and the George Bothwell public libraries. A photovoice projects has also been conducted in Prince Albert with young Aboriginal women.

The photovoice exhibits are available for display to raise public awareness of the realities of living in poverty and to stimulate action for just social and economic policies to improve the conditions of women's lives. PWHCE gives special thanks to photographers Rain Ackerman and Marie Brown who helped start this project.

From Winnipeg...
Poverty: Our Voices, Our Views

From Saskatoon...
Looking Out/Looking In: Women, Poverty and Public Policy

From Prince Albert...
Prince Albert PhotoVoice Project

From Regina...
Regina PhotoVoice Project

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