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Women Around the World

This sweet moment, East meets West in Istanbul, was captured by Mike Davis in Istanbul, Turkey (2014)

Exhibit details


Solo exhibits:

"Women Around the World"

     YWCA  - Berkeley, CA (2019)

"WOMEN: Young and Old Around the World"

     Corte Madera Library - Corte    

     Madera, CA (2019)


     North Branch Berkeley Public Library      Berkeley, CA (2015)

Since 1967, I have been traveling to other countries. In the last several years I’ve enjoyed documenting my visits. I’ve been moved by the different lives that I am able to glimpse as I travel. I see such beauty and strength in the diversity of these women’s experiences. There are wide cultural, religious, and economic factors that create and determine this visual spectrum. In addition to the US, the photos are from Ethiopia, Myanmar, Turkey, Morocco, India, Cuba, Japan, Namibia, and The United Arab Emirates.


I was often unable to communicate with the women in other countries except by gesture or a guide asking if I could take the women’s photo. Sadly, I do not know their names nor how they see the world. I would have loved to have learned their stories.

Southern Ethiopia

Karo girl, Omo Valley

Dassanech (Galeb) woman, Omo Valley

Dassanech (Galeb) woman, Omo Valley

Flowers, watch bands, earrings, shells, and bottle caps were used to create these headdresses. 

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Mursi woman

Mursi woman

Hamar woman, Omo Valley

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Mursi girl, Omo Valley

Mursi woman, Omo Valley

Hamas woman, Omo Valley

These photos show how women in different parts of the world express themselves through practices that have been handed down for generations: In Ethiopia some of the traditions are the wearing of lip plates, body painting, and elaborate headdresses.

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This sixteen year old young woman began her training to become a geiko at fifteen. In Kyoto, the respectful name for geisha is geiko. The apprentices are called maiko. The maikos undergo rigorous training in the traditional Japanese arts to become entertainers. While studying, they live away from their families in an okiya (geiko house). It is estimated that currently there are about 100 geiko and 100 maiko in Kyoto.

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Girl, Japan

Shichi-go-san ( 7-5-3) is a Japanese festival celebrated for children aged 7, 5 and 3 years old. The official date is November 15th. Parents of a 3-year-old or 5-year-old son and / or of a 3-year-old or 7-year-old daughter will take them to a local Shinto shrine.

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Himba mother with baby Namibia.jpg
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Himba woman

Himba mother with child

Himba woman

This gorgeous and elaborate hair style was created with otjize paste (made of butterfat and ochre). The paste is also used on the skin for beauty, protection from the sun and insect bites.

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San (Bushmen) with baby at sunrise, Tsumkwe, Namibia

Teenage girl, San (Bushmen) Tsumkwe, Namibia

San (Bushmen) with child at sunrise, Tsumkwe, Namibia

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Kayan Lahwi woman, Karenni State Myanmar.jpg
Akha woman, Shan Stae Myanmar.jpg

Muun woman, Chin State Myanmar

Kayan Lahwi woman, Karreni State Myanmar

Akha woman, Shan State Myanmar

The art of facial tattooing, the wearing of brass coils, and the staining of teeth with charcoal are traditions among different tribes in Myanmar (Burma).

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Woman smoking

Chin woman, Myanmar

School girl, Myanmar

Chin woman: Chin women were typically tattooed between the ages of 15 and 20. The practice was banned in the 60's by the Burmese government.

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Musician, Callejon de Hamel, Havana

Sisters, Trinidad, Cuba

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Three women Turkey .jpg

Three women walking to mosque

Three women in Istanbul

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Street sweeper

Two schoolgirls

This woman is a street sweeper at the Amber Fort-Palace16th Century, Jaipur, India.


Amber, India

 Two young women in school uniforms visiting the Agra Fort.

Agra, India

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Dubai woman

Woman at the well

 A woman at an art gallery in Dubai. Dubai has a culture that is Arabian, Arabic, Emirati and Islamic. Eighty-five percent of the people living in Dubai are from other countries.


Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A nomadic woman was drawing water from a well in the Sahara desert, near the village of Rissani, Morocco

Faye Combs - United States
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“When I was 7 years old I was raped by a stranger. In order to cope I erased everything including the skills I learned. School was a constant struggle but I was able to camouflage what I lacked because I’m a very personable and social person. I loved track from 6th - 12th grade and I was a track star setting records in Junior AAU (Amateur Athletic Union). I was the class clown. I threatened to beat up my classmates (but never did), to give me the answers to tests. I faked my way through classes. I graduated with my class on time.

I married the man I fell in love with in high school. For the first seven years of our marriage he was not aware that I couldn’t read. I would write something down and ask him to correct it. For my kids I always told them to ask their dad to help them with their homework. I was very involved with their school and wanted to be at home for them so I chose not to work.


Very few people knew that I could not read. I was the director of Meals on Wheels and one day my secretary, who knew my secret, gave me a piece of paper with information about a literacy program. When she saw that I had not moved the paper for several days, she made me call right then. I went to the program when I was in my 40’s and it was so hard to talk to a stranger, a white lady, and say that I couldn’t read. The literacy program in Richmond and then in Berkeley opened up doors for me.


I’ve spoken with Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education and to the California Legislature about adult literacy.


I’ve come from shame to being a leader and a mentor.”


Faye. E. Combs 70 years old, married for 52 years (2014)

Behind the scenes

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All behind the scenes images: photo credit Mary Schafer

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