United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Egypt in collaboration with the National Council for Women (NCW) hosted an event on 25 November, the international day for the elimination of violence against women, at the Mena House hotel to mark the launch of the “16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence” under the global theme “#HearMeToo”. The event took place at the backdrop of the majestic Giza pyramids lit up in orange, symbolizing a bright future free from violence against women and girls.
The 16 days of activism is an international campaign, linked with the UN Secretary General’s UNiTE campaign, which starts on 25 November (International Day to End Violence Against Women) till 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The 16 days campaign provides an opportunity to bring together the whole community to work to end violence against women, promoting a change in mindset and culture where violence is no longer accepted. This year in Egypt, a wide range of events will be held by different partners during the 16 days of activism.
“In line with the global theme #HearMeToo, each and every one of us and specially the youth has a duty to listen to and believe survivors of violence to end the culture of impunity for abusers and to put survivors at the center of efforts to respond to their needs,” stated Ms. Blerta Aliko; UN Women Country Representative.
“Violence against women is a problem worldwide. Violence against women is a form of discrimination directed against a woman because she is a woman and it seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on the basis of equality with men,” stated Richard Dictus, United Nations Resident Coordinator. In his remarks, Ambassador Ahmed Ihab Gamal EL-Din, Assistant Foreign Minister emphasized the important role of women that women play in the society. “It is no exaggeration to say that women are not half the society, but the whole society. It is no wonder that their care, protection and development is a fundamental pillar for the advancement of society as a whole,” stated Ambassador Ahmed Ihab Gamal EL-Din.
“Egyptian women are strong women with the testimony of all who deal with them despite the existence of violence and lack of resources, but Egyptian women have the ability to challenge all difficulties. It is important to involve men and youth in the issue of violence against women,” highlighted Dr. Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women.
Additionally, a keynote address was delivered by Dr. Mona Zulficar; Founding Partner & Chair of the Executive Committee of Zulficar & Partners Law Firm. “We should work more seriously on implementation of laws and holding perpetrators accountable and on education and culture as preventive methods for avoiding all forms of violence against women. We should all, men and women, unite to declare that the voices of women must be heard and that we will no more tolerate any form of violence against women and girls,” mentioned Dr. Mona Zulficar.
Subsequently, two inspirational speakers: Samar Hamdy; Farm Worker at Daltex and one of the beneficiaries of Women’s Employment Promotion Programme and Omar El-Borolossy, Egyptian Squash Player, shared their personal stories with the audience. Samar Hamdy reflected on her own views regarding violence against women highlighting that she decided that she will not let her daughters undergo female genital mutilation as she does not want them to go through the same harmful experience that she had been through years ago. She also explained how she is now an independent woman who enjoys her own secured job at Daltex. “In light of ending violence and discrimination against women, sports is a great tool to promote the ideas,” mentioned Omar El-Borolossy reflecting on his own experience as an advocate of women’s rights and a squash player.
The event was attended by more than 100 guests from various UN agencies, embassies, civil society organizations and other partners. Apart from the launching event, UN Women Egypt launched a social media campaign featuring Menna Shalaby and Hany Adel focusing on sexual harassment in transportation. The campaign was officially launched earlier yesterday in the presence of all partners including H.E Dr. Sahar Nasr; Minister of Investment and International Cooperation; Dr. Amr Shaath; Deputy Minister of Transport; Dr. Dina Fouad, Undersecretary of the Sports Ministry; Dr. Maya Morsy; President of the National Council for Women; H.E. Stephane Romatet; Ambassador of France to Egypt; H.E. Julius Georg Luy; Ambassador of Germany to Egypt; H.E. Mr. Ivan Surkos; EU Ambassador to Egypt; Dr. Wessam El-Beih, Dorosos Foundation Country Director; Yasmeen Hamdan, Head of Project, GIZ, Youth against Sexual Harassment and Salem Massalha; Co-founder of Bassita, the production company.
UN Women Egypt also marked the beginning of the 16 days of activism in Alexandria through organizing a seminar in partnership with Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The seminar was attended by Dr. Maha Maaz, Supervisor of Women’s Studies and Social Transformation Program (WSST) at Bibliotheca Alexandrina; Ms. Gielan El-Messiri, Gender Specialist, UN Women and Ms. Magda El-Shazly, National Council for Women. In the evening, the premises of Bibliotheca Alexandrina lit up in orange to raise awareness about the 16 days of activism, symbolizing a world free from violence against women and girls.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Information Centre in Cairo.