It’s time to stand up against inequality and chase your dreams. That is the message of a new campaign by the National Council for Women in coordination with Egypt branches of the UN Population Fund, UNDP, UN Women, and the Swedish Embassy in Cairo.
In a series of videos, Egyptian women are urged to not let their gender stand in the way of their dreams. Using the motto “ماتخليش ال”ة” تربطك ال”ة” (Don’t let the ‘Teh’ tie you down) and #سر_قوتك (#TheSecretofYourPower), women are also urged to stand up to sexual harassment and not be ashamed of their gender. ‘Teh Marbouta’ is an Arabic letter that is normally ended to word endings to make the word a feminine noun.
The campaign, which also consists of photographs and messages urging women to share their stories, is aimed at providing women greater confidence and showing that being a woman or being feminine (as shown by the Teh Marbouta) should not be an obstacle.
In one video, multiple women wearing different attire, are harassed by men as the walk down a busy Cairo street.
“A lot [of women] face harassment everyday, and everywhere. What is the solution? Not going to work? Not going to school? Not going to university?” asks the narrator in the video, which is among a series being aired on television.
“No. Raise your head and don’t be afraid. You’re not [in the] wrong. You’re right. Don’t let the ‘Teh Marbouta’ tie you.”
Another video takes place at a small engagement party, with the mother declaring “Look, we want our girl to be comfortable and to stay at home.” The video continues with the young girl being surrounded by bricks that are being laid by relatives and other members of society who are aggressively declaring “She must take care of her husband” and “So that when God grants you children, you raise them well.”
However, the video ends with the woman breaking down the brick walls around here, declaring that she will get married, continue her education, get a PhD and work. Her fiance responds “I’m with you [agreeing],” with the narrator telling women to “break the obstacles around them.”
Other videos show a female taxi driver and a female member of Parliament being mocked for their gender before standing up for their rights.
“Yes I’m a woman but I will get you your rights,” declares the female member of Parliament in one video. “I am responsible in front of you to represent your voices.”
Gender inequality continues to be an issue in Egypt, but has received renewed attention since the January 25 revolution in 2011. The National Council for Women, backed by President Sisi who declared he would fight for women’s rights after he was elected President in 2014, has been pushing for greater change and protections for women across Egypt with a number of educational campaigns.