This is Thuan, who has a good job making patterns at a garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City. I took this photo at Thuan’s home when she was getting ready for a meeting of the worker solidarity group which she leads.

She’s been living in this house with her partner in a suburb of the city so that it’s closer to their workplaces. The house is really small, around 10 square meters, and there is neither a bedroom nor a bed. The mirror is placed next to the main door and this is where Thuan does her makeup, combs her hair and gets ready every day. When I asked Thuan what she wants for the future, the first thing she said is that she and her partner are working hard in Saigon to save up for a proper house.

We had a lot of fun photographing at her home it was nice to see someone so self-confident. We spent a long time chatting and she shared that it is not easy for her to live far away from her kids, who live with their grandparents far away while she works. She found it hard dealing with all the stress of working during the pandemic and living in a big city like Saigon. Despite this, Thuan is a really optimistic person who knows what she wants, and I think that quality is why people look up to her.

Fabeha Monir – Bangladesh

I love to tell people-focused stories which reflect the human experience, so it was a wonderful experience meeting such inspiring garment leaders. Particularly, depicting the unity among workers and their individual experiences of empowerment and equality was phenomenal. The way they have earned more decision-making power within their families and in their workplace, which has changed their lives, is astonishing.