For this photo series Firecracker Collective Photographer, Lee-Ann Olwage, partnered with Mwani, the first independent company in Zanzibar, where female seaweed farmers are not only involved in growing seaweed but also in the making of marine-based products which allows them to earn significantly more than their peers.
Mwani means “seaweed” in Swahili. Seaweed farming (aquaculture) in Zanzibar is a well established industry that gives coastal communities, especially women, an opportunity to earn an income for themselves and their families.
Over 90% of those actively involved in the farming of seaweed are women. One of the more remarkable social changes brought about by the introduction of seaweed farming in Zanzibar has been the cash earning power acquired by women farmers. Studies show that seaweed farming led to a profound shift in gender relations in a country where communities have traditionally been patriarchal.
These female farmers play an important role on the island and, as they are increasingly empowered, take on a major role in balancing an economy struggling with a growing population, unemployment, and the fallout from the Covid pandemic on tourism.
Around the world, women are far less likely than men to be seen in the media. As subjects of stories, women only appear in a quarter of television, radio and print news.