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Meet three of North Africa’s leading women’s rights activists

Article that I co-wrote for The Turban Times


Q&A: What is it like to be a feminist in Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, and what kind of challenges and prospects do the women deal with in these North African countries? The Turban Times sat down with three of the leading women’s rights activists in the region, Amel Fahmy, Fatima Outaleb, and Mounira Hammami, and had a talk about their experiences, stands, and visions.


BY HANAN CHEMLALI & MASIH SADAT


Meet Amel Fahmy (EG)

Credit: Masih Sadat/The Turban Times

What challenges do Egyptian women face in today’s Egypt?

“We have a lot of issues with marital rape and other issues like post-abortion care and services. These are issues were people shy away, but they are so important to deal with. On the other hand, we talk more openly about sexual harassment as an issue, which also receives more funding than other issues such as domestic violence, where for every ten women in Egypt, four are being subjected to partner violence. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also a major issue here. Egypt is just one of the countries exercising FGM, so the issues are not solely in Egypt.

We live in a male-dominant social construct. Even though we have a law against, say sexual harassment, the judge will probably not give the maximum sentence. Another example can be that a judge will not convict a male doctor although the girl he performed FGM on died.

The challenge lies in changing a whole structure, and acknowledging that these structures has also effects on boys and men as well as girls and women. We need to work with deconstructing the stereotypical masculinity where boys are seen as men when they sexually harass or hit women.”

“The challenge lies in changing a whole structure, and acknowledging that these structures has also effects on boys and men as well as girls and women.”

What does feminism mean to you?

“That’s a really big question. I actually shy away from calling myself a feminist and I always say I am a researcher who works on women’s issues. I think it is because of the different interpretations and misconceptions of feminism. There is also this idea that when you say ‘I am a feminist’, it means that you are “against” men.

So, with this reasoning, I always say that I am simply an Egyptian woman, who works towards closing the gap and attaining gender equality. I don’t care about what you call me, as long as I am helping people, in particular women, through my work.”


Read the rest of the article on The Turban Times

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