At the end of each year, Karama plans an event that commemorates the work of its partners, acknowledges the contributions of staff, activists, and community members, and celebrates the accomplishments of the past year. Karama Day 2010, held at the Swiss Club in Cairo, included presentation of the activities implemented by Karama’s Egyptian partners in five realms and featured the 4th Annual Mahfoutha Sindiyanat El-Karama Award and Ceremony.
Engaging or utilizing media to build awareness and gain support among members of the local community in campaigns to end violence against women was a major theme of Karama partners work in 2010. The culture realm tackled negative gender stereotypes via a creative update of traditional Aragoz puppetry, while the media realm presented a docudrama Hadouta Men Sag, which is based on a true story and deals with different forms of violence against women, particularly sexual violence and prostitution.
Karama Day also provided the economic and education realms an opportunity to present studies and surveys conducted during the year, feeding into Karama’s evidence-based approach that centers strategy development around real data and analysis. The economic realm presented the outcomes of its groundbreaking study on the economic cost of violence against women, addressing gaps in data surrounding the true consequences of violence on family, community, and national prosperity and progress. Meanwhile, partners in the education realm presented their study on the social and economic consequences of marginalizing women from education. Additionally, they presented their completed database of 80 Egyptian organizations active in the field of women’s literacy and adult education, and produced a training manual on women’s life skills to support and develop the participation of women in the public sphere.
Our partners in Egypt also demonstrated success of another element of Karama’s approach: building awareness on key issues related to violence against women among community members and other stakeholders, including law enforcement, social workers, media personnel, and academics. The law realm demonstrated its pivotal impact on lawyers by sharing the implementation and results of awareness-raising seminars hosted for men and women legal professionals. They also discussed a project on monitoring and documenting 300 cases of violence against women as reported to legal support centers.
The second part of Karama Day featured the presentation of the 4th Mahfoutha Sindiyanat El-Karama Award. Usually reserved for only one woman, this year, Karama and the Arab Women’s Fund presented three Egyptian women with the honor in acknowledgment of their model of empowerment, activism, and courage. Each of the honorees experienced a unique struggle—whether to advance literacy skills and complete law school, to translate an artisanal position to one of mentorship at a listening and counseling center, or to overcome a personal history of violence and make contributions to local women through research. They are symbols of our conviction and great hope that through locally-responsive programs and advocacy, women can acquire the tools to shift situations of vulnerability to those of strength, power, and success. Moreover, they demonstrate that women survivors of violence and discrimination are a major component in the sustainability and acceleration of the movement. As women are given opportunities in various sectors of everyday life, they will use these positions to engage and contribute to those who are newly faced with obstacles and challenges to overcoming social, economic, legal, political, and educational marginalization.
In many ways, we began this work to raise the profile and voices of Arab women and provide those without a platform an opportunity to share their issues, concerns, and recommendations. We are now immensely proud to see the landscape shift. Many of these women are taking the reigns, amplifying their own voices through activism, education, and thoughtful participation. Meanwhile, the global environment continues to build its capacity to respond to these voices and deliver the changes that they demand.