For many people the first images of Mongolia that come to mind are barren steppes, open skies and nomads living a rural lifestyle. But in fact more than half the population of 2.6m lives in cities, most of them in the capital Ulaan Baatar.

Perhaps even more surprising is the role of women in Mongolian society. Mongolia enjoys a female workforce participation of 51%, which puts it among the top 5 countries in the world in terms of percentage of women in the workforce.


Historically Mongolian women have enjoyed higher status than in many other countries in the region, and this trend was developed further during the 20th century under Soviet rule, when equality was emphasised and women’s participation in many professions increased.

In her exhibition ‘Professional Women of Mongolia’ photographer Grace Gelder documents some of the many Mongolian women in professional and technical roles. The exhibition was created in November and December 2007 and highlights the variety of roles filled by Mongolian women.

otgonnyam-small.jpgThe photos above and below are taken from the exhibition. Above is Nina, who runs a pharmaceutical business.
And to the left is S. Otgonnyam, who is Project Manager of the World Bank Fast Track Initiative. The programme aims to improve education in rural Mongolia.

The photos are showcased on Grace’s website here, and you can see more photos of Mongolia and detailed background information on Grace’s Flickr site. She would also be happy to hear from anyone who has questions – the address is

Read More:
How to make Mongolian boots and more about clothing of Mongolia


About the author

Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.