Women of Artsakh

Shortlist 2018

Karl Mancini

Karl Mancini is an Italian documentary photographer based in Rome and Buenos Aires. He studied photojournalism in New York at the ICP. Since 2001 he has worked in more than 90 countries following socio-historical and political events and focusing on issues such as gender violence, the aftermath of wars, human rights and immigration. His works have been exhibited in the USA, Britain, Russia, Australia, India, Japan, Italy, Spain, Canada, Greece, Switzerland and at many international festivals and prestigious competitions. He collaborates with international non-government organizations and his stories have appeared in different magazines, newspapers and media: Newsweek, Stern Magazine, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Der Spiegel, CNN and many others. He is currently working on a project about violence against women.

The Conflict

Women of Artsakh

On the night of April 2nd, 2016, Azeri forces attacked all along the contact line the border with Nagorny Karabakh (NKR), reopening in effect a conflict that was never officially closed. The clash was dubbed the Four Days War. In 1991 Karabakh after a referendum declared itself independent of Azerbaijan, claiming an Armenian identity of all its inhabitants. This sparked off a war that would go on for four years and leave behind thousands of dead. Today despite official denials hostilities continue and new casualties are recorded almost every day for both sides' armies.

The truth is that every woman in Karabakh or Artsakh (its name in the local language) has in the family a brother, a father or a son who is a professional military man or who lately joined the army. Many families are in the military entirely. Relatives wait anxiously for their return, yet it is thanks to their contribution that life in the country is able to move forward. Many of these people hold important positions in the government and make decisions crucial to the future of this part of the world tucked away in the mountains of the Caucasus. From a simple family mother to the minister of culture and youth affairs, from a common employee in a beauty parlor to assistant to the head of the supreme court, women are the soul of Karabakh, the strength of this country, and in some ministries account for 80% of staff. They dream of independence and peace to build a different future for their children. They love intensely, fight tenaciously, often suffer in silence, and believe in their traditions. They are brave and fragile. This is their story.