SC Egypt concludes Speak Up Campaign with the 16 Days of Activism

Wednesday 9 January 2019

This year’s16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence were full of engaging activities involving participants and volunteers from different backgrounds and age groups. 16 Days is an annual global campaign to raise awareness of and generate dialogue about the various forms of gender-based violence, and their impacts on girls and women.

Our Speak Up campaign kicked off the 16 Days with the launch of our new Safe Café initiative, which raises awareness of sexual harassment among coffee shop workers in the Ard Ellewa neighbourhood of Cairo. This initiative was conceived and developed by Speak Up youth volunteers. A large number of harassment incidents happen in front of street café; the youth decided to directly address the source of the problem. The event hosted 18 coffeeshop owners and workers, who all agreed tostart applying strategies such as not welcoming harassers and by offering their shops as safe spaces that girls can turn to if they are being harassed in the neighboring streets.

Save the Children organized three events at Cairo University. The first spread awareness of sexual harassment, its types and methods of reporting. Later, we participated in an anti-sexual harassment march organized by the Anti-Harassment Unit at Cairo University. The second event was a seminar to present the findings of a study we conducted in 2017 on the social costs of sexual harassment. The third was an interactive theatre performance that tackled sexual harassment and gender-based violence issues, prepared and presented by our campaign volunteers.

Our activities also reached refugee communities living in Egypt. We carried out activities for Syrian students aged 13 to 18 years, as well as their parents. Our goal was to raise their awareness of the difference between sex and gender, and the impacts of social and cultural factors on gender norms. Participants in these sessions discussed the various forms of violence that they face every day, especially violence targeting girls and women.

“The 16 Days campaign this year was a result of two years of constant work with youth,” reports Hager ElSayed, Save the Children’s Senior Project Officer for the Safe Cities project. “We are honored to support youth, especially boys; they were engaged in every step we took to organize this year’s campaign.”

Several of this year’s 16 Days events were organized in partnership with other organisations, including various activities for children and mothers in collaboration with Safe Kids Egypt. Sessions for men from different age groups were organized in cooperation with Makank Fein, to raise awareness about men’s roles in combating violence against women. The day also included fun activities – a girls football match and mural painting at the Ard El Lewa Youth Centre. We wrapped up the day with an interactive play titled “The Last Harasser in Egypt,” prepared and presented by our own Speak Up volunteers.

Last but not least, in an interactive internal session, colleagues from Harass Map joined us to discuss sexual harassment in the workplace.