Ready Steady Go!

Autumn is gently approaching in Alexandria; though the heat is still staggering and the beaches are full of holidaymakers enjoying the sun and the sea. Many have already returned to their offices after the summer vacation and children are returning to schools the coming weeks.
The institute has an eventful fall ahead with activities in Alexandria as well as in other countries in the region and in Sweden and the UK.
With a glimpse back at our activities this summer we’d like to highlight the interesting debate on ”Muslim feminism and secular feminism are they compatible?” that took place during the political week in Almedalen, Sweden on the 30th of June. The participants were Mrs. Gudrun Schyman from the political party Feminist initiative and Archbishop Mrs. Antje Jackelén. From Egypt professor Hoda el-Saadi from the American University in Cairo, Dr. Marwa Sharafeldin Ph.D in Islamic Law and Human Rights Law from Musawah International Movement and Mr. Mohamed Abdelaal from the Egyptian religious establishment. You can enjoy the debate by clicking here.

Almedalen 1

The debate attracted a lot of audience and gave many some food for thoughts on the importance of cooperation between feminists, whether religious or secular.

Almedalen 2
During the summer the institute has been hosting youth initiatives like the MAC Club in Alexandria regarding the revival of cultural heritage, and the Alexandria Euromed Summit.
Our next TV debate, Aswat min Misr, will be recorded in August and broadcasted in the beginning of September on ONTV . The debate will discuss the relationship between the decision-makers and the citizens with Egyptians and Tunisians. The moderator of the debate, Mr Amr Khafagy, has worked on a documentary together with the institute and an NGO from Egypt called Aswat. Mr. Khafagy travelled with the team to interview Swedish politicians and civil society actors during the political week of Almedalen in Sweden in the beginning of July. Apart from meeting with politicians Mr. Khafagy also met with the Swedish Press Ombudsmen and interviewed the Swedish Minister of Integration.

Almedalen 3

The institute is currently working on the preparations for a study tour to Stockholm and Malmö regarding joint efforts against violence against women and sexual harassment. The Swedish Institute has since 2013 in cooperation with ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality based in Lebanon, cooperated on “Masculinities and ending Gender Based Violence (GBV)”. Further in May 2014, The Swedish institute in cooperation with ABAAD, Appropriate communication techniques ACT, National Council Women, HarassMap and Shuft el-taharroush; organized a campaign against sexual harassment. One of the direct outcomes was the networking between civil society and the government institutions and their united call for cooperation and coordination. Further there was consensus on the importance of sharing experiences on a regional level and with countries which have successfully implemented wide ranging approaches to end sexual violence and harassment.
To follow up on these two activities implemented, the institute, ABAAD and ACT have decided to organize a visit to Sweden to study the holistic approaches society has developed to fight GBV and the support and rehabilitation victims and perpetrators receive.
New Urban Topologies is a project that the institute initiated in 2011 in cooperation with Färgfabriken for Art and Development, and Alexandria University. The main theme for the workshop planned 28-30 September will be; Kafr Ashry-Lost and public Spaces. Based on sustainability, security, recycling and the specific needs of children and women, the dialogue will continue with its inhabitants. During three days there will be excursions, seminars and workshops.
Further the institute in cooperation with the Bibliotheca Alexandria is preparing for a Development Forum later this fall. A preparatory meeting will take place in the UK in September at University of Westminster.
These are a few of our upcoming activities in August and September and we hope you will follow us at the Swedish Institute Alexandria
I wish you an inspiring autumn!
Cecilia Sternemo
Deputy Director

Busy May

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The main endeavor by the institute in May is the #SHE initiative “Stop Harassment Egypt”. This is an initiative in cooperation with the National Council for Women, the ‘I saw harassment’ initiative, HARASSmap, Go Bike and others. Sexual harassment is a global phenomenon that all societies are facing. Together with its partners the institute decided to dedicate 10 days to fighting sexual harassments by organizing a number of different activities with a diverse audience. The first event in Cairo was a biking event around Zamalek where 500 bikers took to the street showing that the streets are for all and should be safe of everyone.
More men need to be involved in ending sexual harassment if we want to achieve results on the ground. The work with youth and in particular young men, is a focus throughout the campaign week. The “Role of Men to Combat Sexual Violence” has been addressed in a workshop for two days in Alexandria where the efforts between the government, civil society and religious leaders have been the focus of the discussions. This is an approach that the Lebanese NGO ABAAD has much experience in and a representative shared their work and insights during the workshop.

During the #SHE initiative the institute is also organizing two days of ‘Dardasha’ in Alexandria where youth will discuss and develop methodologies and activities to fight sexual harassment in their local communities. One of the workshop leaders in Walaa el Hawary, a young female writer and biker from Cairo who changed the attitudes in her local community about a young women going by bike. The last day of the #SHE initiative, bikers in Alexandria will take to the streets in a manifestation against sexual harassment.
For the institute May will end with an activity in Tunisia in cooperation with the Ahmed Tlili Foundation, “Spreading a culture of democracy”. The workshop brings together researchers from the Arab world to present experiences of domestic democratic traditions in a historical context.

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Stop Sexual Harassment Initiative

Sexual harassment is a global phenomenon of violence against women. Sexual harassment can take many forms; verbal, visual and physical. Sexual harassment is a criminal act that results in a negative development in any society and marginalizes the people affected by it. Sexual harassment is an act of violence that reduces the status of women and secludes them from the public.

Swedish Institute Alexandria with the help of its partners both regional and local; will carry out a series of activities to help better understand the drawbacks of this phenomena. The main partners in this initiative is the National Council for Women in Egypt, with whom the institute will address the recent developments in terms of the new laws to combat sexual violence as well as addressing the role of NGOs and civil society in combating this type of violence.

In cooperation with HarrassMap, Egypt, the institute will conduct a two days interactive workshop in Alexandria. The workshop will bring examples of how to combat sexual harassment from local NGO’s operating Egypt. Moreover the workshop will include a session by Walaa El Hawary, a young Egyptian female biker who has written a book about her experiences biking in the busy streets of Cairo. Participants in this workshop are youth ranging in age from 18 to 35.

The second workshop addresses the joint efforts between the government and the civil society. The National Council for Women, I Saw Harassment Initiative, the Ministry of Justice will cooperate together in a joint workshop. ABAAD is a NGO in Lebanon that will give insights to their work in involving and addressing the role of men to combat sexual violence. The participants in this workshop are coming from civil society organizations, religious leaders and media representatives.

The institute will moreover organise two interactive activities with the public. The first is a bike ride around Zamalek where the bike riders will be asked to wear t-shirts/caps/pins with the logo stop sexual harassment. There will be a second bike ride in Alexandria on the Cornish. The aim of the bike ride is to demonstrate the equal rights of citizens to safe public space free from harassment.

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The next episode of the institute’s TV debate, Voices from Egypt (Aswat min Masr) will be tackling the phenomena of sexual harassment. All who are interested to take part in this TV recording and discuss sexual harassment, can write to us on register@swedalex.org if they would like to attend. With this initiative the institute and its partners hope to raise awareness on the topic and the importance of eliminating sexual harassment.

 

Resounding voices on the role of women in economy

Swedish Institute Alexandria in partnership Wilton Park organized a joint conference in Cordoba hosted by the Casa Árabe. The meeting, also supported by the OECD and UNESCO’s Chair for Conflict Resolution at the University of Cordoba, took place between the 25 and 26 March 2014. It brought together women and men from across the region, in particular Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and the UAE, together with representatives of international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation, UN Development Programme, the League of Arab States and OECD MENA Business Women’s Forum.

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Lively discussions covered subjects ranging across economic challenges and opportunities for women in the MENA region, the patterns of economic exclusion and barriers to women in the workplace, legal frameworks, Islam and women’s role in the economy, education and skills development and promoting a constructive environment for self-employment and entrepreneurship.
Recommendations from the meeting focused on forward looking pathways to economic independence for women, including ways to best promote equal access to finance for entrepreneurs, how technology can facilitate growth, and what needs to be done to encourage cooperation between civil society, private and public sectors.
Other recommendations for future action included the creation of a fund dedicated to women’s entrepreneurship to cover the entire MENA region, along with development of particular products which would facilitate women led enterprise, and development of e-learning facilities for financial and general education.
Enablement of women was a common factor; greater telecommunications investment in deprived areas hindered connectivity, along with a lack of Arabic content on the internet and less available translation support. Supportive infrastructure to reconcile work and family need to be provided.

Building capacity provides more opportunities for women, not solely in the private sector, and cooperation among all sectors of society, and is key to women’s advancement. Issues examined included legislative reform, raising awareness of the benefits of women’s employment, education about gender discrimination, as well as to promote critical and creative thinking, and changing mind-sets of both men and women. The importance of building an enabling environment for women starts in the family
Both micro and macro perspectives need to be considered, ensuring equal access for women to opportunity through education whilst promoting inclusive, unrestrictive, gender-responsive development of the private sector.
Issues discussed at this conference had been highlighted in the Cairo Declaration, adopted on 23 February 2014, during the ‘High Level Meeting for Implementing the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls, Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in the Arab Region’ held at the League of Arab States in Cairo. The commitments in the Cairo Declaration were felt to be an excellent reference for advocacy and concrete action. Rights are never granted – they are taken. The emphasis needs to be on implementation, and the members of the Positive Voices Network, in their various capacities, will come together to act and achieve impact.

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The participants in Cordoba