Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Women in Egypt commonly face struggles related to marriage, divorce, sexual harassment, spinsterhood, drug addiction, etc. These taboo issues and are not openly discussed subjects nor are they deemed appropriate to discuss within the family. Without a space to talk about these issues or other sensitive challenges, women have to deal with and navigate these challenges isolated from help, feedback, and positive reinforcement. Further, in a society that still views women as unequal to their male counterparts, women lack the self-awareness and confidence to speak up and have their voices heard. Due to this environment, young girls—even educated girls—live in an atmosphere that crushes their needs, denies them of their rights, and refrains from offering solutions to their problems.
Unlike the popular phone/internet hotlines in Western countries available for young women to discuss issues they are uncomfortable discussing with their families or peers, Egypt and the Arab world have not adopted this approach. This is due in part to the lack of freedom for authors to publish content regarding sensitive subjects as publishers are unwilling to publish and distribute literature by authors that write about controversial issues, not wanting to jeopardize their business or be shut down by the government.
Another reason that women do not have the space to discuss the sensitive issues they face is due to the fact that the Arab media is a male dominated field and lacks women’s perspective. To date, the media still portrays females as sinners and subordinates. This translates into the public inequality of men and women in society. Disparities exist even between young children in the way girls and boys are raised in Egypt. From a very early age, girls encounter many discriminatory practices as they grow up, even ranking lower than their male siblings and treated as subordinates within the family. They are overburdened by household chores and the care of younger children and elderly family members. They have less freedom to be outside the house and are discouraged from being active in social services and employed in many male-dominated fields. It is difficult for girls and women in Egypt to get out of this cycle and have a sense of self or even pursue their own interests.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Amani is countering regressive ideologies that threaten women’s status in Egypt at a critical time. By creating a safe space for educated girls and women to discuss taboo subjects that is fully operated by and for women, she is providing them with a new channel to not only speak about silenced topics but to also receive guidance to specific challenges they are facing and tangible solutions to their problems. Further, she has created a powerful network of women that provide resources and opportunities for young women to be equipped with tools and confidence to make life-changing decisions.
Creating a program that empowers women personally, medically, and legally, Amani’s multi-faceted work responds to women’s fears, provides them with knowledge and refers them to specialized places for additional help. These pieces come together to provide women with the opportunity to overcome their problems and gain the confidence they need to feel empowered. Her work helps women change their predicaments by not accepting the traditions and norms that make them second-class citizens but provides them with a sense of self and responsibility for their actions. Further, her work is creating a new generation of girls in Egypt that are defined as having a strong locus of control. In turn, her work is re-defining the role of women in Egyptian society by allowing them to counter the deep rooted and outdated notions by expressing openly their liberal views.
Amani’s work is filling a large gap within the citizen sector that many other citizen sector organizations in Egypt that focus on women could not fill. As she helps women change their predicaments, she is creating a network of strong, capable women who have the tools and resources to empower the women around them. Her work is expanding to influence young girls in primary schools and is providing young girls with critical employment skills. Amani’s work has already spread beyond Egypt to other Arab nations including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. She has plans to expand to her operations at a global level.