DW: Where and when did you take the picture?
Mary Crist Martinez: It was taken in a small village called Hemja in Nepal.
Do you come from or live in the country where it was taken?
I am from the Philippines. I stayed in Nepal for 3 months this year.
Who is in the picture?
The picture is of an auntie of a friend, Alish Lama. We met up with him during my first week in Pokharra. He was polishing his English skills. Shortly after that he took us to meet his family in his village. Such lovely human beings who made us feel like family even if they didn't speak english and we didn't speak nor understood Nepalese.
What inspired you to take it?
It was just the perfect tender moment. As she hugged Alish, I saw how her love and affection glowed, and I wanted to immortalize that. It is quite ironic really because in Nepal it is not the norm to show feelings. Though they are friendly, women are reserved even towards their husbands or sons, especially when other people are around.
What does your image say about the culture of women in the country where it was taken?
They take part in heavy chores. Carry stones up the mountains and some build their own mud houses with their own bare hands. Some may see this as abuse or that the women here are pitiful, which I heard a lot from tourists, but I choose to see it as strength. These women are remarkable.
How important do you feel gender issues are in the country where your image was taken?
During my stay in Nepal, I noticed that in terms of employment, Nepalese women can do almost everything men can do. I saw women working in construction, farming and in professional roles.
However there is still distinct gender-related discrimination, especially in small villages. A woman's opinion is not regarded as being of equal value to that of men and traditionally, they are expected to be meek and submissive to the male figure in the family. Even in conversations among older adults, a woman can't just join in and give her take on the issue.
Although there are more and more young females going to school, earning degrees and chasing their dreams, beneath that is a subtle scent of repression.
Where do you think life as a woman would be easiest?
I think Germany would be the easiest place to be a woman. I'm not saying this because I have a German boyfriend, but because of what I can glean from the media, Germany offers men and women equal opportunities in terms of education, employment and protection.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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