Soul Mining

Essay 487 • Oct 24th 2021

The women in this project are a fraction of a larger group working in key roles within the mine, side by side with the men. Working six days a week, eight hours a day, earning a basic monthly salary of $60. The women are also often involved in coal processing and waste disposal, exposing them to harmful chemicals and dust that can lead to severe physical and neurological damages.

The coal mining industry is a crucial economic force in Malawi, where poverty rates are high, and the women bear the burden - therefore are more likely to be involved in low-income work such as mining. The constitution prohibits gender-based discrimination, And yet, these women are not treated as equals in their homes, much less by society.

The depiction of the miners’ daily routine shines a light on the true beauty and false premise of female empowerment. Within harsh daily realities, disrespect and hard work, the women I have met during this project are powerful and proud; they are pillars of stature, stamina, strength and stability, representing the ongoing, daily struggle for equality in their workplace, homes and lives.


Noam Friedman was born 1989 in Jerusalem, and is the recipient of the Meitar Foundation’s Scholarship of Excellence (2013-2015).
Friedman holds a diploma in Photography from Musrara – the Naggar Multidisciplinary School of Art and Society, Jerusalem, and has spent the past two years living and working while traveling with a mobile darkroom. She exhibited her works in solo and group exhibitions in Israel, Malawi, England, Scotland, Porto and currently is working on a show at Tate Modern, London.
During her travels, she explores various communities – both as a phenomenon and as a concept. Her works, produced through analog photography and in the dark room, originate from her need to craft and hone her work, to create an image that has a real, material presence.
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