This Grandma's Friends: A World of Smart, Strong Women

To be celebrated Especially on International Women's Day

This Grandma's Friends: A World of Smart, Strong Women

As a travel journalist writing about travel from a woman's point of view, I am in touch with other writers and photographers on a daily basis. It doesn't matter if these folks are in London, Delhi, or New York City, each is as close to me as my computer keyboard. Over the years we've become cyber pals and that certainly helps when, every March, I spearhead a photography project to celebrate International Women's Day (IWD).

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I simply put out the call for photos of their best female encounter from that year and my friends respond with lovely gems, each a meaningful tribute to women at home or in far away places. And not one photographer ever asks for monetary payment for their work. Though we've never met in real life we are sisters ready to help each other out, especially on International Women's Day.

Our 2015 IWD online photography exhibit is made up of 36 photos plus the back stories that go along with each. Here are eight wonderful images from this year that I think you will really enjoy. Happy International Women's Day to each and everyone of you from me and my female friends around the world.

Photographer: Suzanne Jones

I visited Tighanimine Women's Argan Oil Co-operative in Agadir, Morocco. After the visit I went outside and discovered this little girl with bright orange fingers stained from henna picking. She was intrigued to see her photo on my camera screen and giggled at her image before running off to play.
Photographer: Kristin Henning      
Website: TravelPast50 
Just outside the boundaries of the World Heritage Site in Petra, Jordan, where we'd wandered by mistake, an elder man instructed this girl to lead us back to the trail. She took pride in showing us some sights along the way and fending off a boy who tried to 'steal' our attention from her. She was having none of that!
Photographer: Aruna Chandaraju
This tribal girl at the Bhagoriya Tribal Festival held in Madhya Pradesh, India, kept covering her face when we wanted to shoot her photo. She finally relented much later but only for a second and that shot is not half as interesting as this one is.
Photographer: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis  
Women are always ready to lend a helping hand. This is Fort Langley National Historical Site, where the Hudson’s Bay Co. established the colony of British Columbia 150 years ago. The site continues to thrive thanks to heritage volunteers such as this hearty Canadian woman.
Photographer: Shara Johnson
This toddler was born into the ancient San culture in Namibia, and is growing up in a "living museum," where her parents demonstrate their ancient traditions to visitors. I felt such joy to see traditions being respected and passed on to children rather than simply dying out with the older generation. For now, this happy girl is reveling in the innocent life of her natural environment, where sticks and mud are, as they have always been, the best toys around.
Photographer: Helen Suk

It was hard not to be drawn to this woman and her child in the Peruvian Andes. Clothed in multicoloured patterns, she exuded a quiet confidence and contentment.
Photographer: Steph Spenser
While touring Thessaloniki’s creative quarter, this woman invited us into her fashion design studio where she makes lovely, retro-inspired clothes and accessories. I was charmed by her quiet determination and sense of humour. It is not easy to make a living in Greece, but folks like her are creating their own opportunities by using their talents to become entrepreneurs.
Photographer: Katja Wulfers  

Noelsa is the single mom of five who lives in one of the rural communities one hour from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She recently decided to complete grade eight and so she spends every Saturday at school. Her goal is to find a better job so she can provide a better life for her family and serve as an example for her children. She blew me away with her determination.