“Are women discouraged from achieving their dreams in Egypt?” That is a question a group of American University in Cairo set to discover with their student initiative ‘Men 7a2ik‘ (Arabic for ‘it’s in your right’).
Unfortunately, the students soon discovered that 70 percent of women surveyed could not achieve their dreams. Who do they blame? Egyptian society.
Hoping to tackle the issue, Farida Ezzat, Lara Magdy, Passant Waseem, Farah Farag and Ingy el Gabry formed ‘Men 7a2ik’ to tell the stories of Egyptian women.
“This is an initiative to reintroduce the female voice into society with the assertion that it is a RIGHT,” said Farida Ezzat, co-founder of Men 7a2ik, in statements to Egyptian Streets.
“Our stories vary from women who sought to achieve their dreams (such as Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Dr. Madiha Safty and Dr. Mervat Abo Oaf), in addition to, other women who wished they could achieve their dreams but could not.”
Yet, what does telling these stories achieve? Ezzat believes that this is the first step to empowering women to stand up for their rights.
“Our organisation hopes to achieve an active discourse within society that establishes the belief that it is within women’s ability and right to push for their dreams regardless of what societal pressure and traditions dictate,” said Ezzat.
“We bring women’s stories to our platform in the hopes that more women are exposed to those stories and are encouraged to achieve their dreams or are encouraged to become an active member within that discourse.”
One of the initiative’s first major highlights has been an exclusive interview with H.E. Dr Sahar Nasr, the Minister of International Cooperation.
“I am careful that in all sectors of society…that there are equal opportunities [for men and women]…to learn…to grow professionally,” said Dr Nasr in regards to her Ministry’s work when asked about equal opportunities between men and women in Egypt.
“In a lot of areas…you have to remain persistent and to know what are your rights. I feel there are equal opportunities,” added Dr Nasr, stating that there are nevertheless some certain areas where employers may prefer men over women due to the requirements of the job.
Men 7a2ik also interviewed Dr Mervat Abou Oaf, a Professor of Practice and former Chair at the Journalism and Mass Communication Department at the Global Affairs and Public Policy School at AUC.
The interview with Dr Nasr and Dr Abou Oaf come just under a week ahead of the launch of a mini-documentary aimed at revealing the stories of Egyptian women. The mini-documentary includes interviews with a number of women, asking them what their dreams are and whether they believe they can achieve them.
Asked whether the initiative truly represents the everyday Egyptian woman, particularly given that it is founded at a private university where the majority of students are privileged, Ezzat said that Men 7a2ik is not limited to just one segment in society.
“Yes it does represent the everyday Egyptian woman because we are open to submissions through social media in addition our surveys and the in-depth interviews we did were not limited to AUC,” said Ezzat.
“We interviewed children, college females, and mothers and older women for our PSAs,” added Ezzat.
“Our organisation hopes to achieve an active discourse within society that establishes the belief that it is within women’s ability and right to push for their dreams regardless of what societal pressure and traditions dictate.”
To follow Men 7a2ik’s work and watch the mini-documentary once it is published, click here to like their Facebook page.