Journalism, Photography

IWD2016: Françoise Demulder ‘Fifi’, war photographer

Today, the 8th of March, is International Women’s Day. This day serves as an occasion to celebrate the achievements of women, but also to campaign for gender parity. Many people wrongly believe gender parity only benefits women, but in fact it benefits society as a whole, propelling economic, social and cultural progress.

One of those women who had an effect on social and cultural progress was photojournalist Françoise Demulder.

Source: Copyright: Georges Beutter

Copyright: Georges Beutter

She once said that she hated war, “but felt compelled to document how it is always the innocent who suffer, while the powerful get richer and richer”.

She was the first woman to ever win a World Press Photo award, in 1977, for a photo of a Palestinian woman pleading to a Phalange militiaman in Karantina, East Beirut.

Source: World Press Photo Copyright: Françoise Demulder

Source: World Press Photo
Copyright: Françoise Demulder

She was known by her nickname, ‘Fifi’, apparently coined by Yasser Arafat, whom she met during the war in Lebanon.

She started her career in Vietnam, documenting the onset of the war in 1975 and she went on to photograph most of the major conflicts of the end of the 20th century. She was one of the few women who managed to forge a strong professional reputation in the predominantly male world of photojournalism.

She passed away in Paris in 2008, aged 61. You can read her obituary and more information about her life and work in this obituary published by The Guardian. This website has a collection of pictures of her through the years. Some of her work is available here.

To know more about International Women’s Day, go to