Women and War

Jenny Matthews
An unflinching twenty-year portrait-diary of women's lives in war zones


War is overwhelmingly a male occupation. Yet its victims are often civilians—many among them women and children.

In Women and War, Jenny Matthews gives a voice to this silent majority of casualties through a series of deeply moving—sometimes disturbing—photographs of human subjects in the midst of war and conflict wherever they are found.

Twenty years of visual and written diaries tell of human struggle around the world—in Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Burma, Chechnya, Haiti, the United Kingdom, Guatemala, and Sudan, among others. Jenny Matthews documents women and the roles they play—avoiding, coping, confronting, participating—as well as the emotions they experience: anger, fear, despair, joy, hope, terror.

Jenny Matthews records the stories of the people she photographs, both visually and with written diaries that underscore the immediacy of the images, drawing connections between the different countries. Above all her book is a celebration of the lives of women, and how their role as actual or potential mothers changes their relationship to war.

Jenny Matthews, freelance photographer and filmmaker, chronicles the devastating effects of armed conflict on women. Her work has been exhibited by Oxfam and Womankind Worldwide, and has appeared in magazines such as Mother Jones.

Praise / Awards

  • "This collection of her photographs and text is in turn startling, horrifying and moving; the emotions it evokes are as complex and wide-ranging as the struggles, losses and triumphs of the women she depicts. . . . Whatever the political situation in which they are caught, women must carry on their work. Matthews' book offers a series of images of how they manage this when all around them is dissolving into mayhem. . . . I would highly recommend this book to anyone teaching a course in gender and peace studies—or courses on women's work—since it so vividly illustrates the varied roles that women must take on in wartime and the aftermath. . . . Because their social roles are shaped by so extreme a spectrum of experience, it is sometimes difficult to conceive that in wartime, some women can become violent, gun-toting amazons while others become caregivers to child soldiers; that some weep over children who have died of displacement-induced hunter while others search for the strength to care for children conceived through rape. Matthews' photographs offer a testimony to how women manage to bear all these contradictions; I am grateful for the opportunity she gives us to share stories that are so often untold."
    —Vanessa Farr, South Africa, Atlantis, Vol. 28, No 1
  • "Women and War is not a happy coffee table book that should be left out when guests come over for brunch. But the stark reminder of the human affect [sic] of violence is required reading, if we are to put an end to generations of murder and genocide."
    —David Handschuh, photographer, Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma web site, November 5, 2003
  • ""The voices of Iraqui, Palestinian and Afghan women speak to us through Women and War, not just via their penetrating portraits, but also in their own words. It is typical of Matthews' modus operandi that she shares the pages of her first in-depth collection with these women who are the mainspring of it. . . . The pictures chosen by Matthews for this collection resonate with a rare compassion. They serve to remind us that there is no glory in war, but after all the evils of the world have flown from Pandora's war chest, there is one thing left: hope."
    —Max Houghton, foto8 magazine, Summer 2003
  • ". . . a searing collection of photographs of women's lives in times of war."
    Tribune Arts Focus

Product Details

  • 6-3/4 x 9-1/2.
  • 192pp.
  • 120 photographs.
See Sales Restrictions

Sales Restrictions

Our edition is available in Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Trinidad And Tobago, United States


  • Paper
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08964-2

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  • $33.95 U.S.