Feature / Stand By / City of Women by Justyna Mielnikiewicz

“City of Women” is a story about 12 women from Grodno, a city in northwest Belarus, where women officially outnumber men 1.4 to 1, although the locals claim the ratio is much higher.
Every day Maya Chirkova walks to her small Grodno office, where she has paired Belarusian women with foreign men for 15 years. She claims that 95% of the men who come to Grodno through her agency find a wife, and she has arranged some 400 marriages to men from Western Europe. She operates more like a traditional matchmaker than a broker, and even introduced her only son to his future wife – a former client, who had been determined to find a French husband. Maya’s female clients are of all ages and professions and have as much authority over their choices as the men.