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Pulitzer Center Update July 14, 2022

Irina Werning Wins World Press Photo Award for La Promesa


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La Promesa

Education has become a highly politicized issue in Argentina during the pandemic.

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Multiple Authors

Antonella Bordon’s mother and sister helped care for and style her hair. Image by Irina Werning. Argentina, 2021.

Grantee photojournalist Irina Werning has won a 2022 World Press Photo Award for her Pulitzer Center-supported photo project, La Promesa. The project won an award in the South America, Stories category; this is the first year that the awards have been given in regional categories.

La Promesa, or The Promise in English, documents the journey of Antonella, a 12-year old girl  with very long hair living near Buenos Aires. Antonella’s education has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and political battles over government-enforced lockdowns; she has vowed to only cut her hair, a key aspect of her identity, when in-person classes resume. Werning chronicles Antonella’s experience as a young person living through one of the world’s longest lockdowns.

“The Promise offers an alternative, refreshing perspective of the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdowns in South America,” said the jury comments. “The project's many layers address the long-term effects of the pandemic on children, and calls into question how children can engage in demanding equal access to education. The photographer looks beyond the narrative of victimhood and approaches the issue in a positive and uplifting manner. She highlights the young girl's creative and personal form of resistance in a way that transcends cultural boundaries and connects to diverse meanings of hair around the world.”

Werning presented her winning project in a video posted by World Press Photo:

Video courtesy of World Press Photo. The Netherlands, 2022.

The World Press Photo contest “recognizes and celebrates the best and most important photojournalism and documentary photography from around the world” every year, according to its website. The 24 regional winners were selected from 64,823 entries by 4,066 photographers from 130 countries. 

View the other award winners’ work here. Read La Promesa here.


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