The beginning of 2011 saw the Egyptian people join in the trend of increasing demands for accountability and reforms in the Arab World. A broad protest movement led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and after a period of interime military regime, the first democratic elections in sixty years were held.
The most populated country in the Arab region
But although the revolution has given people a lot of hope, many difficulties remain. With a population of 80 million people, Egypt is the most populated country in the Arab region. Despite its status as a middle income country, many suffer from widespread poverty, lack of employment possibilities and inequalities in society. Discrimination against women exists at all levels of society and violence against women is widespread.
A new political environment
The revolution in 2011 created a new political environment with a positive trend in social expression and a larger popular base for democratic demands in Egypt.
This is an opportunity for Egyptian civil-society organisations to ensure that the reforms integrate democratic and human-rights principles, that the change process comes from within, and that the space for civil-society contributions to policy-making in Egypt is enlarged.
Goal: To eradicate female genital mutilation
To achieve lasting improvement in people’s lives, Diakonia supports work carried out on different levels of Egyptian society by local civil-society organisations and our goals are related to promoting human rights, democracy and gender equality. Over the years of our presence in the country, Diakonia has identified three groups of rights holders who are particularly marginalized and oppressed: women, people with disabilities and children at risk. These groups represent areas in which Diakonia has significant expertise not only in Egypt but in the entire region. Together with our partner we are reaching out to homeless and working children, providing basic social and medical services. We provide support to our partners in empowering young girls and women both at local and national level to eradicate female genital mutilation and to reduce various forms of violence against women. Diakonia and partners now seek to support the democratisation and reform process that is ongoing in different ways.
Ghada Abdel Raouf works with information about FGM within the Diakonia partner BLACD. Aida Burnett-Cargill