AWSEA's trip to Egypt

After doing extensive secondary research of the MENA region and the problems that women faced therein AWSEA decided to go and pay a visit to one of the countries of our research to gather a more qualitative understanding of the problems the women face and the reasons behind it. We flew four and half hours, in late January 2013 from London to arrive in the home of the mystical pyramids, also known as Egypt.

DAY ONE 19th January: AWSEA travelled three hours out of Cairo to a rural area of Beni Suef, here we visited a women’s organisation called Nasr Women Association (NWA). We met with them at one of the nurseries they ran for working mothers. Working mothers were able to leave their toddlers and even new-borns here so that they could return to work.

Aside from this service NWA, also provide many other services for women in the Nasr area. They run clubs for women, where women are taught arts and crafts. They run seminars focusing on issues that affect women; like seminars on marriage, divorce etc…

They have also been proactive in encouraging women to run/start up their own businesses.

They have laid the foundations to make effective changes for the life of women in the Beni suef area, AWSEA was inspired by their work. The conditions of the nursery were not great but it was the best they could do on the limited funds they have.

Above; First picture on the top left was taken on route to NWA, the rural area was so picturesque. The remaining pictures were taken inside of the nursery.

Whilst in the rural area of Beni Suef AWSEA with NWA visited a few homes of the people that NWA provide assistance too. It was a sad and humbling experience for AWSEA; we met with a single mother who was dealing with two children on her own, one of whom was in his early twenties and disabled.

AWSEA also visited a local Governmental health clinic called Zaytoon. The clinic was in a poor state, we were informed it only had one doctor. When we arrived the clinic was derelict, we were told many locals do not attend any health clinics at all, whilst others opt to go to private clinic.

Above: Governmental clinic in Zaytoon. Dusty with barely any equipment or fixtures and fittings.

DAY TWO 20TH January:

On the second day of our trip we visited an organization that had its base in the slums of the city of Cairo. The organization “Please Others First of All” has been established since 2005. They work mainly with local families that live in the surrounding slums. They provide assistance to about 350 families. The assistance they provide varies from family to family. Some families they help gain access to good healthcare by providing them with money to get the care required. Further they have done projects on keeping the slums clean. They also held literacy classes but due to a lack of funding and low interest they were forced to cancel these classes, as well as holding classes to help women that are about to get married, on how to deal with problems them may encounter in the beginning of their married life.


Above: scenes from the slums in Cairo.

DAY TWO 20th January:

AWSEA also paid a visit to The Ministry of Health. Here we had the pleasure of meeting with the deputy Minister of health, Dr Abeer. The Minister was warm and very welcoming to AWSEA. She expressed her gratitude at AWSEA’s interest in Egypt. She acknowledged the fact that women were suffering from poor health and poor health facilities, but was optimistic about the future to make changes to the overall health for the Egyptian population. We share Dr Abeer’s enthusiasm and are also hopeful about the improvement in health care for the women and children of Egypt.

DAY THREE, 21st January:

AWSEA visited the National Council for women (NCW). They are a feminist organisation that actively raises awareness regarding many issues that affect women in Egypt today. AWSEA met with the general manager DR Naglaa El Adly, she spoke to us about the type of projects that NCW are doing and have done. NCW have done projects like the “Women heads of household project” where they require that if a woman wishes to partake she must be literate or be attending literacy classes, this was a way to encourage women to educate themselves. Further they provide literacy classes for women, and those who attend get free healthcare for their children and themselves, NCW even cover the children’s schooling expenses. We were inspired by the effective work and proactive methods that NCW were using to bring light to the plight of Egyptian women.

Above; AWSEA's Director meeting with Dr Naglaa El Adly (second right) and other members of NCW.

DAY THREE, 21st January:

AWSEA also visited Noori Iman situated in the rural area of Minyat Samnood. We met them at a small center they run for disabled children; those suffering from physical and mental disabilities.

In this part of Minyat Samnood the women at Noori Iman reported a high level of domestic violence and currently run a small program that helps women suffering from domestic violence, they provide her with a place to stay and financial support for a short period of time whilst she tries to better her situation.

They also said sexual harassment was a problem among the adolescents in the area and wished to start a project addressing the issue.

Below; AWSEA meets with the locals in Beni Suef.

The women at Noori Iman were all educated professionals looking to make a difference and better the lives of women who are less fortunate than themselves. AWSEA had such an amazing time visiting their center. And we also had the pleasure of having a home cooked dinner with them, which was lAWSEA project manager meeting with locals in Beni Suef.                     


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