USA - These women work in a coal mine and are therefore financially independent. In the reserve more women are working than men and many, including mothers, attend evening school. © Nadia Ferroukhi


Nadia Ferroukhi

 2019 — Kenya, Guinée Bissau, Ouessant, etc

About this series

“Matriarchy refers to a society in which women hold a certain amount of power, but without the hierarchichal, sometimes oppressive characteristics of a patriarchal system. Women play a central socio-economic role, passing on their name, inheritance and land to their descendants: a lineage of women that form the basis and backbone of the clan, based on the concept of maternity law. In a matrilocal society, for example, it is the man who joins the female household and not the other way around.
The women I met in China or Indonesia practice an ancestral matriarchy that resists external pressure. In the village of Tumai in Kenya, persecuted women founded a village without adult men, and found a kind of peace without gender domination. There are atypical cases such as on the island of Ouessant in France, or the island of Kihnu in Estonia, where one could speak of a matriarchy of force majeure: the men went to sea for very long periods, and the women organized life in the island for two centuries. In Cangnabac in Guinea Bissao, Bijago women between the ages of 17 and 35 will be called by the Women’s Council to live in social isolation for three years. On this journey towards wisdom, they obtain the status of Great Woman.
All these women share a desire for unity in male-dominated societies. Weakened by the often-nihilistic discourses of missionaries of all faiths, these communities are today facing cultural globalization and mass tourism that reduces their age-old practices to mere curiosities.  How will these micro-communities resist the power of patriarchy? Do the new generations at the centre of these communities have a future? Do local authorities have the will to respect and protect them?”

Nadia’s Ferroukhi’s book Les Matriarches is published by Albin Michel (oct 21).

ESTONIA - Kihnu Virve carries the name of the island she was born in. One of Estonia’s most famous singers, Virve Köster, 85 years old, knows by heart the melodies she performs – over a hundred. She is the pride of Kihnu women! © Nadia Ferroukhi
FRANCE - Since the 18th century, the men of Ouessant massively enroll in the navy, especially in the merchant navy. Men leave Ouessant for months, sometimes years and the organization of the island is entirely left to the women. © Nadia Ferroukhi
INDONESIA - Sunni Islam has replaced the traditional religion, but the pre-islamic Adat (customary law) is still in practice: women own the land and the house, which in turn, are passed on from mother to daughter. © Nadia Ferroukhi
COMOROS, MORONI - In matrilocal organizations, husbands move into their wives’ houses only after marriage; "hwenda dahoni" literally translates as "going home". Husbands are considered "moudjini": guest in the matriclan. © Nadia Ferroukhi
ALGERIA - The Sahara Desert offers a view you could find in the book "One Thousand and One Nights". Here, near the dune of Tin Merzouga, the breeze lifts a prayer rug - a breeze of freedom. © Nadia Ferroukhi
MEXICO - Juchitan, in the state of Oaxaca, means "city of flowers" in Zapotec. It is the birthplace of Frida Kahlo's mother. Here women are powerful and independent, a rare thing in a patriarchal society like Mexico. © Nadia Ferroukhi
ESTONIA, KIHNU ISLAND - In 2008, UNESCO classified Kihnu's cultural practices as intangible heritage of humanity. Despite the desire of the younger generation to leave the island, traditions remain. Women are the main custodians of the Island’s history. © Nadia Ferroukhi
INDIA - Sole heirs of the family inheritance, women control wealth, give their names to the children and take decisions for the couple. In reaction, a men's association was founded in 2000. They demand gender equality, a greater role for them in the family and equal property rights for a male child. © Nadia Ferroukhi
KENYA - Near Mount Kenya, 300 km north of Nairobi, Turkana and Samburu women established Tumai, a village prohibited to men, except for male children until they reach adulthood at age 16. © Nadia Ferroukhi

Photographer: Nadia Ferroukhi
Nationality: French-Algerian
Based in: Paris, France
Instagram: @ferroukhinadia

Born to a Czech mother and an Algerian father, Nadia Ferroukhi is a nomad. Since her childhood, she has roamed the 4 corners of the globe, and is now based in Paris. A graduate in international relations in Washington D.C, multilingual and curious, it had become obvious for her to explore the world with her “third eye” (her cameras). Perfect option to combine the desires that drive her: empathy, curiosity and the way she looks at differences, seeking to highlight those who are in the shadows. Her goal: to tell stories in pictures and create a link between all these communities that contribute to the richness and diversity of the planet.
-Photo Festival Les Femmes s’exposent-Au Nom de la Mère,le Matriarcat en question-France 
-Gallery Thorigny – In the Name of Mother – France 
-Photo Festival Escales – New York / Brittany – France
-Museum Quai Branly – Le Corbusier Algiers-Marseille – France 

-Museum of Modern Art Algeria (MAMA) Arab world cultural year – My Algeria – Algeria
-Museum Quai Branly Photoquai biennal – Le Corbusier Alger / Marseille – France 

-Photo Festival Bamako – Family code in Algeria – Mali
-FNAC itinerary exhibitions – Algeria facts and effects 12 years of journalism – France
-Gallery Little Big – Algerian chronicles – France 

-Photo Festival L’HO – Life in the Sahara – France
-Bordeaux City Hall – Le Corbusier Algiers / Marseille – France
-OPEC Fund – Algerian chronicles – Austria
-Festival Tchintchine – China – France  

-Festival of Solidarity, 2013-2019, billboard for the festival – France
-Centro Cultura Contemporania Barcelona (CCCB) – Algier’s youth – Spain 

-Festival Black motion – African Beauty – Italy