Women Suffer from Economic Deprivation in Egypt
Over the past decades, women in Egypt have achieved notable milestones in addressing discriminative laws. Personal Status legislations, which for a long time have formed the basis for gender prejudice since its initiation in the 1920s, have experienced tremendous reforms, particularly concerning its practical elements. Lawful bans preventing women’s equivalent access to and representation in the judicial system have been so far done away with, and societal taboos that limited their access to a number of professions have also been dissolved (Nehad, 2008). Simultaneously, escalating poverty rates and hardship have engulfed the women and their households, limiting their preferences and adversely outdoing their opportunities to declare their rights. Increasing societal conservatism in regard to gender roles as well as the increased level of economic deprivation and violations would eventually undermine their ability to interpret legal rights into real life experiences (Mohammed, 2008). In the year 2010, for instance, the Gender Gap Report of World Economic reform established that this country was placed 125th among the 134 countries surveyed nations in gender parity. This explains the extent of female injustices in Egypt. According to the report, just a small number of women in Egypt took part in political and leadership activities. Only this insignificant number participated in the elections. In other words, the Egyptian women are not politically involved and have no say in governance decisions thus are greatly deprived of basic freedoms and rights (David, 2012).
Despite the Egyptian government advances in developing and approval of new legislative measures in support of equal treatment for both men and women, women discrimination is still widespread (Ann & Farah, 2008). For instance, the Egyptian Penal codes offer relaxed sentences to men charged with murder and classify the crime of infidelity differently for men and women. Personal status laws, which regulate issues of divorce and marriages, child custody, and general family affairs has long been viewed as a major source of discrimination against women. In support, the conservative interpretations of the Shari ‘a female testimonies in the family courts are considered half that of males (Mohammed, 2008). In this respect, there is adverse family neglect by most Egyptian men causing a substantial number of the women to languish in abject poverty. Nonetheless as mentioned earlier, even the laws stipulated by the state do not instill much protection on the women. There is adverse need to provide these women with imperative skills and financial empowerments as well as civic education on their basic rights thus enhance rights advocacy and protection from infringement. This can only be achieved by establishment of Income Generating Activities and Women Empowerment schemes, such as the proposed handicrafts production project for the Egyptian Women (David, 2012).
The main objectives of this project are;
To alleviate poverty among the Egyptian women by initiating Income generating activities
To enlighten women on their basic human rights through women empowerment programs
To enlighten women on governance thus enhance their contribution in the nation’s governance and political decisions.
With the rising trends in government reforms, there is less anticipation of resistance on the women empowerment programs. Egypt, being an Arab country with utmost appreciation for handicraft and decorative material, there is potential market for the proposed project. The project would not deprive the men of their wives’ attention thus no much anticipated resistance from the men. This would provide leeway for ease of penetration and implementation of the projects all over the nation. Finally, current rates of information among the population would make it easy for this information to pass through to a substantial number of women across the state.
Regardless of the anticipated strength in implementation of these prospective programs, the government setup as well as the religious values of the Egyptian natives would be a major drawback in a vast area of the implementation. The transitional government does very little in addressing issues relating to women hence it might prove futile establishing certain projects in this region. This has created the major obstacle in streamlining the legal and ethical issues of women in Egypt for a very long time.
The project would establish women empowerment centers within which there would be Vocational and Artisan training centers. This might include building of new structures and renovation of other that would be identified. The centers will target women and girls aged between18 and 40 years. The line of expertise will determine the durations taken for the trainings, but most of the trainings will last six months. The trainings will involve bringing in artists and professional artisans, in most cases women, to provide mentorship and training to the women on the artistic productions. As part of the course, these women would be taken for trips to countries or regions with already developed projects of the kind to gain more insight and motivation towards the project. Through the initiative, new lines of products such as patching, beads and glass casting, painting, and stone curving among others will be produced. Together with this, other relevant skills such as dressmaking, marketing and communication skills will be imparted on the women. There will be investment on the modern technology in the trainings to expose the women to the current trends, digital media and social networks. This will widen the scope of communication and would enhance women empowerment across the globe through the online community.
The project will be implemented through the generous contributions of both local and international agencies, such as CARE International on poverty alleviation strategies and funding for the income generating activities, International Center for Research Women (ICRW) on surveys and needs assessment on women and children, and International Relief Teams (IRT). Others include Kick Start International, Near East Foundation and the relevant local government agencies among others for funding, food support and ease of accessing remote underserved regions. This massive association will give the project so insight and the general universal support. With the incorporation of these organizations, the project would gain competitive advantage and thus its success. Egypt would therefore be used as a model case study to establish the same systems across all nations in the world. This will impact positively on women involvement in governance around the globe. This initiative is designed to run for five consecutive years. Despite being an establishment of a Non Government Organization, the few women within government agencies will be incorporated in the program to give them more empowerment and courage to address several issues that however would not be easily addressed. In general, this initiative is meant to provide an integrated development strategy to generate income, enhance food security and improve on basic and civic services for the economically deprived population in Egypt.
Management of the project will be done through a bottom up approach in which committee members will be elected by members of the groups at different levels, each level will have a group account in which money for their various projects will be channeled. The money will only be subject to withdrawal by three signatories from the said groups. There will be a monitoring and evaluation as well as a quality assurance department, which will conduct regular audits and assessments to ascertain the extents of project delivery and its quality. Apart from the regional organizational structures, there will be a central organizational structure, which will comprise members from the various partner agencies.
Once completed, the products will be branded in the group’s name and marketed to the universal market. This will be done through development of a website in which experiences and motivational stories will be posted about the strides made by the Egyptian women thus encourage global women involvement in leadership and governance.
However, it is anticipated that most men from the Egyptian community will oppose certain moves and impose stringent rules on their spouses to collapse the program. This is because in a long time these men have lived infringing on the rights of women at the favor of the state and they would not want that to change. In this case, through bringing in the international partners, the program will portray the Egyptian government’s goodwill towards the international community thus the project will first seek to secure the government support. Together with that, through civic education, the project would enhance male understanding of the program and greatly encourage their involvement as well. This is the design established to get the Egyptian Men to start embracing Female leadership.
Another anticipated challenge, which might seem to be the most difficult to overcome will be penetration of the Egyptian rural where most of the population are still traditional and invariably religious. The areas are the highest rated with extensive deprivation and violation of women’s rights. Women in the remote regions are mostly uneducated and unmanageable in understanding. In this case, it might involve introduction of other strategies such as food programs to attract their attention, which in turn would also involve additional extra costs (Human Rights Watch, 2004).
This program, from the sales, connections and the skills developed among the women, will remain sustainable long after the funding would have ended.
Work plan and Budget
|To alleviate poverty among the Egyptian women by initiating Income generating activities
|$ 5, 550, 000.00
|Purchasing of training material
|Mobilization and Sensitization
|Hiring of Trainers
|Sale and Marketing
|Sitting allowances for trainees
|To enlighten women on their basic human rights through women empowerment programs
To enlighten women on governance thus enhance their contribution in the nation’s governance and political decisions.
|Formation of Focus groups
|$ 4, 450, 000.00
|Distribution of Leadership and Governance IEC Material
|Research and surveys
|Monitoring and Evaluation
|Provision for contingencies
Note: This budget estimate reflects the total amount for the entire program that is stipulated to run for five years. Renovations of facilities will take place once during the onset of the project. The subsequent years will majorly be implementation of activities. Each category will have an allocation of given amounts; however, the training and investment will consume more in order to ensure project sustainability for the next generation.
Ann, A., & Farah, K. (2008). Women Were Braver than a Hundred Men, Socialist Review 10227 (8), 37 – 56. Retrieved from; http://socialistreview.org.uk/321/women-were-braver-hundred-men
David, D. K. (2012). Egypt’s Women Find Power Still Hinges on Men. New York Times, 135 (1), 16 – 18. Retrieved from; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/world/middleeast/egyptian-women-confront-restrictions-of-patriarchy.html?_r=0
Human Rights Watch (2004). Divorced from Justice: Women’s Unequal Access to Divorce in Egypt. New York: Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from; http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/egypt1204/egypt1204.pdf
Mohammed, A. Z. (2008) Calls for the Testimony of a Woman to Be Equal to That of Man. Cairo: Al-Masry al-Youm. Retrieved from; http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b990125f.html
Nehad, A. K. (2008). Women’s Testimony: A Problem with the Female Mind or the Egyptian Mind. Journal of the Center for Women’s Equality, 559 (1), 1 – 9. Retrieved from; http://sjoseph.ucdavis.edu/Images_Homepage/old-plone-logos/bibliography.pdf