Like the Tide
The clam fisherwomen of the Po Delta, an area in northeastern Italy, embody the ability to adapt in times of difficulty and to carry on a silent and constant revolution of their role as women by finding their place in an industry that has been dominated by men for years. They believe that they could quietly and consistently do what no one expected them to do every day. The Po Delta, where the longest river in Italy flows, was a poor region. People were primarily engaged in fishing and agriculture, however, these brought a meager income. At the tail end of the 1980s a big crisis that occurred in the textile sector further exacerbated the issues in the region.. The crisis led to massive losses in employment, especially for women, many of whom worked in the factories.. Serendipitously, during the years of the textile industry crisis, clams were planted in the shallow waters of the delta. Clam fishing became the road to recovery for the region and its economy. In a break from tradition and tradition, the women formerly employed in the textile mills took up clam fishing alongside the men of the region. They wake up everyday at dawn and wade into the frigid waters of the Po to perform the hard labor of fishing and hauling clams. Today, almost half of the fishers are women, and three generations work alongside each other in the water. These women exemplify outmoded gender stereotypes that still exist even in an advanced western country like Italy where gender inequality remains across regions. When I started this project, many women told me “Men kept trying to convince us we wouldn’t be able to do this job, but we never stopped believing”.
Chiara Negrello (b.1995) is a documentary photographer living in Florence, Italy, where she graduated with a degree in photography from LABA Academy in 2017. After freelancing for a few years, in 2020 and 2021 she attended the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at the ICP school in New York, supported by a scholarship awarded by Reuters. In April 2021 she became a member of “Women Photograph”, and in October 2021 she was selected for the Eddie Adams Workshop XXXIV. Her works focus primarily on women and have been published by The New York Times, National Geographic, D la Repubblica, Marie Claire, Der Spiegel, Focus and others.