Capital Commentary is the weekly current-affairs publication of CPJ, written to encourage the pursuit of public justice.


Empowering Women in Post-Revolution Egypt


Raafat Latif

05-03-2013


May 3, 2013

By Raafat Latif

The winds of change are blowing in the Middle East. While many watch for the political and economic results of the Arab Spring, others hope for radical social transformation. In Egypt, injustice toward women takes its form in alarming statistics of school dropout rates, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment, and early marriage. Yet individual cases of physical and emotional abuse do not tell the whole story. The key issue is the distorted self-image that society imprints on a girl’s mind and heart from the time she is a child. Women in Egypt today see themselves as second-class humans, of lesser value than men, weaker in intellect and capabilities. A woman’s role is limited to meeting the needs of men.

Into this painful reality came the 25th of January Revolution with its demand for freedom and human dignity.  Since then, one of the most urgent issues left untended is that of women’s status in society, especially with the rise of many fundamentalist currents. With the real fear that the status of women will become worse than it was before the revolution, some Egyptians are taking the daring initiative to change women’s realities for the better now. I currently direct one of these new initiatives, a magazine named Loloa (Arabic for “pearl”), reflecting our vision of the Egyptian woman as a true pearl, with great capacities that have developed from her suffering. The magazine’s founders are a group of young people, both men and women, who believe that a renaissance of Egyptian society can only happen with the emancipation and active participation of women. We believe Egyptian women are key to unlocking true change in Egypt and to developing a progressive civil society, free from militancy and extremism.

Loloa is an awareness-raising magazine, empowering women by addressing their needs, expressing their concerns, calling for their rights, and advocating for their issues. It specifically targets female readers with mid-level education, which is about 78% of females in Egypt today. The magazine’s cover articles boldly tackle taboo topics like child marriage, sexual abuse, domestic violence, divorce, female genital mutilation, and women at work. Regular columns address women’s health, family relationships, and legislation concerning women, and also offer innovative ideas for personal economic development and the empowerment of women who are their family’s breadwinners.

Loloa focuses on liberating women from negative self-images, paying special attention to women’s emotional health. Interviews with female leaders in society and success stories of ordinary women who have overcome hardship provide inspiration and role models for readers. In its first year, Loloa attracted many prominent writers known for their advocacy of women, and the inauguration gala for its first official issue in March 2013 drew a strong attendance of intellectuals, politicians, and artists.

A vital characteristic of the Loloa team is its diversity of religious and intellectual backgrounds. While different, we are united in our humanitarian belief that women and men stand side by side at the pinnacle of creation, and we work with those who believe in the principles of justice, human dignity, and equality. We want respond to the needs of all Egyptian women, whatever their religious, economic, or social backgrounds, and we hope for our country to do the same. As a Christian, I personally believe that the teachings of Christ are the true path to freedom and peace with oneself and others, and I am convinced that if these values ??of freedom, unconditional love, and self-giving prevail, then peace and justice are possible in any society.

Although Loloa is not a political magazine, we believe it will have a significant role in changing political realities in Egypt. As dedicated citizens working for the good of our country, we wish to use the tools of media and advocacy to help women gain a positive self-image, become aware of their rights, and take action to claim them. We trust this effort is the beginning of the road to changing legislation and policies that impact women. This magazine is a product of the social activism that marks Egyptian society today as it struggles to realize the long-held dream of a whole, healthy, diverse community marked by truth, justice, and equality. We are confident that the Egyptian woman can bring about this new society and that Loloa magazine will be an essential tool for her in this historic transition.

- Raafat Latif is the co-founder and executive director of Loloa magazine.  He can be reached for more information at friends@lo2lo2a.org



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Capital Commentary is a weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice. Published since 1996, it is written to encourage the pursuit of justice. Commentaries do not necessarily represent an official position of the Center for Public Justice but are intended to help advance discussion. Articles, with attribution, may be republished according to our publishing guidelines.”