CAIRO: Tahrir Lounge hosted a Thursday seminar titled “Social oppression of the Egyptian girl,” organized by Messry Group for Development and Awareness, and sponsored by the Goethe Institute in Downtown Cairo.
“We must take the issue of women’s oppression beyond dialogue and shedding light; there must be action,” said Vivian Ramzy, one of the founders of Messry, who said the purpose of her organization was to support young talents and provide them with a chance to present their work to the public and develop themselves, adding that the creativity of youth was needed to tackle the issue.
The event included several activities including a seminar, poetry, a short play, a group discussion and a pantomime show. A group of women, who have been working with Messry for a while, spoke during the seminar.
The women came from different backgrounds and governorates but shared one common issue: they were all participating in the initiative due to the oppression they have been and continue to be subjected to.
The women spoke of their ambitions to pursue their education, work and fulfill their roles in their communities. They raised several issues such as the problem of proper communication, for example with oppressive parents, and the interference in women’s personal choices. They also proposed some solutions.
“There is a contradiction between defending women’s rights and coming to accept and apply those rights with your own family members,” said one of the participating women, referring to her father.
Samar Magdy, one of the women participating in the conference said that despite being oppressed; women do not consider men as enemies they need to defeat, adding that most women’s rights advocates are only seeking an equal chance to be heard.
Additionally, a group of young students from Ismailia designed and performed a pantomime show, portraying different aspects of the repression of a girl throughout her day.
“Halabesa” is the name of the group, its oldest member is 22 years old and its youngest is eight. “When we tried to perform in public, we took the streets of Ismailia. We were arrested, and found out that 53 police reports were filed against us for threatening national security,” Ehab Rashed, the team’s musical director, told The Cairo Post.
Hala Mostafa, a well-known journalist and women rights activist, said the state contributed to the oppression of women by not implementing legal measures such as setting clearly defined and effective laws.
“Our journey is still long,” she said. “We are in a constant struggle with authorities to obtain our legal rights, on other levels there are temporary effective solutions such as initiatives against different forms of oppression,” she continued.
Mostafa’s statements are in line with the views of Mona Ezzat, head of the New Woman Foundation, a women’s rights organization.
Ezzat had told The Cairo Post in February that women in leading positions should aim to enforce laws criminalizing and penalizing any violations against women on all levels. Furthermore, she advocated the establishment of an independent committee in charge of structuring laws against women discrimination.
“That committee should coordinate with different women organization, human rights, and labor institutions and several other associations in other sectors, to monitor violations and discriminations against women and to establish proper law to fight them,” Ezzat told The Cairo Post.