I made this picture of Mahi Zareen and her disabled son, Zaid Akbar Shah in Chipursan Valley, Hunza, northern Pakistan. This fertile valley region is home to the Wakhi people – prosperous, well educated, and self-sufficient farmers of grain, potatoes, vegetables, meat and dairy, with a profitable export market for disease-free seed potatoes.
Because the Wakhi are Ismaili Muslims – a branch of Shia Islam whose Imam is His Highness the Aga Khan – I was allowed to photograph their women. Among the Ismailis, women are free, educated, independent and unveiled. Ismailis do not practice gender segregation and the women are encouraged to participate in all social and political affairs.