Finding civic spaces to address social norms around violence, sexuality and gender roles in Egypt
Nihal Said (United Nations Development Fund )
Paper short abstract:
Youth-led participatory action research on using music and sports for education about the violations of women and girl's rights in Egypt. This experience challenged the perception of civic spaces such as youth centers that young people visit and engage on development and social change
Paper long abstract:
As a society we cannot tolerate that 79 percent of all Egyptian women being exposed to the brutal practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), including 61 percent of girls between the age of 15 and 17. This practice, even though not grounded in religion or science, and punishable by law, is still widely performed by medical professionals and is often justified to preserve social order and protect the chastity of women. Furthermore, 6.1 million Egyptian women have no access to family planning assistance, leaving them at risk of unwanted pregnancy. This lack of control disproportionately affects the poorest and least literate women. This situation is not helped by the opinions of young men with regards to an ideal family size. Of the 3,000 plus men surveyed, 67.8 percent cited the ideal family size as higher than three children per family. This action research is an attempt to occupy the space, time and interest dialogue men and the overall community against women's rights through non-conventional entertainment means. To shake their value systems, we grouped young talents to perform music and sports educational activities at the civic spaces challenging their perceptions about these issue. To that end, the two piloted 'edutainment' projects that employ music and sports (i.e. running, walking and team sports and music concerts) succeeded as entry points to both engage men on women's rights issues and to motivate young women and girls to practice sports and arts in civic spaces.