Photo via Al-Fanar Media
“Our main goal is to make films and media content out of the stories that people in this country never want to feature on mainstream platforms. We want to be a voice and a platform for people who had their experiences buried and overlooked,” says Myriam Mikhael, co-founder of Amena.
Amena is a platform creating content and starting conversations to combat gender-based violence.
Mariam Solika, Myriam Mikhael, and Nayra Ashraf are three young Egyptian Television Journalism graduates from Misr International University (MIU).
Having noted that the overwhelming majority of Egyptian women have suffered some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, they decided to dedicate their graduation project to documenting the digital anti-sexual harassment movement that took place in Egypt in 2020, through a platform for productions, stories, and initiatives combating different forms of gender-based violence.
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According to Ashraf, co-founder of Amena, the social media account on Instagram aims to be a “safe space for those sharing their stories, seeking guidance or hoping to help, in a fear-free, shame-free and stigma-free environment, as well as one that provides education, awareness and empowering content combating gender-based violence and oppression.”
Initially launched as HERd, Amena was rebranded to encapsulate the platform’s main message, safety, and make it more recognizable and relatable to the target audience through an Arabic name.
As part of their graduation project, the founders created a documentary film that narrates the story of Egypt’s #MeToo movement, told by the women who led it, took part in it, and were influenced and affected by it.
“We did two screenings of the film before officially releasing it online, and the screenings went very well because everyone in the community we were trying to reach was already super open and welcoming. They’re already waiting for people who want to do anything to help,” adds Mikhael.
Solika explains that they aim to expand and create content representing any oppressed group in Egyptian society, and move beyond sexual harassment.
Despite having multiple plans and ideas in the pipeline, Amena is still trying to land funding to make these ideas come to life.
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Egypt grapples with a significant phenomenon of sexual harassment. The crime, which targets women and young girls, has often been represented in film, namely in 678, a film drama (2010) as well as in videos and short films.
“I believe that the movement is far from over; it never stops and it won’t stop until we have clear, strict solutions and laws for the issue, until we have all done our part in making Egypt a safer place for women. The movement isn’t stagnant, it’s ever-changing and regenerating. As long as there is still horrific violence of any kind against women in Egypt, there will always be a movement,” concludes Ashraf confidently.