Women Who Inspire Change: Mamen Saura

Nikki Speer, Senior Development Officer

So many people want to do something good with their time and talent, but often can’t find a way to make it happen. Mamen Saura is not one of them — she has made it her life’s work to use her skills as a professional photographer to give voice to the stories of some of the world's most vulnerable women.

Mamen is a champion for those who suffer from oppression, and she uses her camera as a weapon to battle the world's ills. It didn’t take more than  phone call for Mamen to agree to do pro bono photography for IPPF/WHR when I asked. Then a few weeks later, she was on a plane to Mexico City.

When visiting our Member Associations in the region, Mamen travels deep into the least visible communities. She visits slums where people live in desperate poverty and are largely forgotten by the world around them. Mamen goes to these places without reservation, extending her humble smile to the people she meets.

While dutifully carrying a backpack that weights more than 30 pounds, Mamen still manages to beautifully capture every critical moment. Before asking to take their photo, she talks with young mothers who have come for a pediatric check-up for their babies. She listens to women who want information about contraceptives and engages the young men who have made a stop to pick up condoms. She reaches out to these people as someone who cares about their joy and struggles, and they respond to her kindness with shy smiles then open arms.

Mamen's photos are honest; they tell a truth that cannot be captured merely with words. They show the faces of the people throughout Latin America and Caribbean who are fighting for a better life for themselves and their children. And her photos allow me to communicate their stories to our friends in the United States.

I feel extremely fortunate to have a friend like Mamen, who volunteers her time, talent, and resources while asking for nothing in return. In a world where the problems can seem vast and overwhelming, Mamen's photographs provide a glimpse into the lives of girls and women who rely on our global community to live healthy, self-determined lives. And the commitment and dedication of the woman behind the camera has inspired me personally and professionally.


Here is a slideshow of photos Mamen has taken for IPPF/WHR.

All of the photos featured here are Mamen's, except the image of her, which was taken by Richard Wanderman.



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