Fall Reading: Grandmother Power

Photojournalist Paola Gianturco has seen a lot, traveled a lot, lived a lot. Her work began slowly, first in the corporate world’s marketing and communications. Later, she’d feed her creative passions through writing and photography. But now, 35 years and five books later, she’s melded the roads of her past to inform and express wonder at another job: grandmother.

Yes, Gianturco is a grandmother, but her latest collection, Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon (powerHouse Books, 2012), shows a bit more than the joys of witnessing legacy and the passing-on of good genes. Instead, we’re carried on a burgeoning women’s movement that spans 55 countries and dips in and out of 120 activist grandmothers’ lives.

Grandmothers around the world have joined forces in their struggle for human rights and in battling illiteracy, poverty, disease, and domestic abuse. Dozens of  “grandmother groups” over five continents have given this movement legs, and powerHouse provides the scope of Grandmother Power‘s advocacy:

Grandmothers in Canada, Swaziland, and South Africa collaborate to care for AIDS orphans. Grandmothers in Senegal convince communities to abandon female genital mutilation. Grandmothers in India become solar engineers and bring light to their villages while those in Peru, Thailand, and Laos sustain weaving traditions. Grandmothers in Argentina teach children to love books and reading. Other Argentine grandmothers continue their 40-year search for grandchildren who were kidnapped during the nation’s military dictatorship. Irish grandmothers teach children to sow seeds and cook with fresh, local ingredients. Filipino grandmothers demand justice for having been forced into sex slavery during World War II. Guatemalan grandmothers operate a hotline and teach parenting. In the Middle East, Israeli grandmothers monitor checkpoints to prevent abuse and the UAE’s most popular television show stars four animated grandmothers who are surprised by contemporary life. Indigenous grandmothers from thirteen countries conduct healing rituals to bring peace to the world.

Although “coffee table books”  seem better suited for last-minute shopping guides during the holiday season, Grandmother Power gets a spot on my fall reading list because of the stories told through photos and quoted from these activist grandmothers themselves. Long after flipping through Gianturco’s brilliant shots, you’re left kinda/sorta caring about the grandchildren you don’t quite have yet but even more about the issues plaguing youth worldwide.

Celebrate the launch of Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon with Women’s eNews on Monday, October 29 at Women’s eNews Manhattan headquarters (6 Barclay Street). Photojournalist Paola Gianturco will be on hand for a slide talk and book signing. Click here for more information and to register.

All proceeds from Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon benefit the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s  Grandmothers Campaign, which supports  grandmothers in African countries caring for children orphaned by AIDS.


  1. Who said Grandmas don’t have power?? This is great, I really appreciate the fact that Grandmas are making a stance in this world and standing for something.