For many, life in the Gaza Strip is defined by conflict, borders, and boundaries. Shut off from the rest of the world, the girls that are born and raised here encounter greater challenges than their brothers. While they’re faced with pressures like poverty, finding a marital match, and behaving in a way that reflects positively on their families, there are also moments of joy, laughter and exuberance that many photojournalists miss when documenting life in the territory.
It was this sense of hope and happiness that photographer and journalist Monique Jaques sought to capture over the two years she spent photographing communities in the Gaza Strip. Chronicled in her yet to be released photo book, Gaza Girls: Girls of the Gaza Strip, the images she acquired during her time in the region examines the stories of young women coming of age in a difficult place, in an unexpectedly beautiful way.
"I met the most amazing group of girls and young women who were so inspiring,” Jaques told Huck Magazine. “They were focused on making positive changes in their lives and the lives of others. I started documenting them and then expanded the work to tell more stories of the women. Often we see Gaza through a dimensional lens of violence and conflict. Stories about quieter moments like these are often overlooked, though they offer a powerful look into a world unseen by many. This work amplifies the everyday moments of joy and hope.”
Through photographs of female medical students giggling at a private joke, unmarried girls relaxing in their friends’ bedrooms and young children smiling in playgrounds, Jaques creates a portrait of Palestinian women that amplifies the hopes and dreams alive in all of them. The energy present in her photographs is palpable and serves as a testament to the resilience of the women of Gaza.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Jaques’ book Gaza Girls: Girls of the Gaza Strip is scheduled for release in early 2018. Featuring an extraordinary selection of photos, the 120-page book can be pre-ordered at the Gaza Girls website.