Graffiti Hareemi to honour Egypt's female workers on Labour Day

Farah Montasser, Monday 30 Apr 2012

'Female Graffiti' campaign will spend Labour Day in the industrial city of Mahalla to honour female labourers who played decisive role in last year's historical Tahrir Square uprising

graffiti hareemi

In the hours before Tuesday's Labour Day celebrations, members of Graffiti Hareemi ('Female Graffiti') will tour the Nile Delta city of Mahalla to honour female workers.

"We're honouring all women workers who joined their male co-workers in last year's revolution," campaign organiser Nawara Helal told Ahram Online.

Mahalla is known as one of Egypt's main industrial hubs; it's where the first labour protests took place – in 2006 and 2008 – against the neglect of the working class, and where the first calls for Mubarak's ouster were heard.  

"Those women were the first to call for the 'fall of the regime' back in 2006 and 2008, while the rest of us remained silent until the Tahrir Square uprising," Helal said. "The revolution, which we're so proud of today, first erupted with these small labour rallies in Mahala."

On Monday night, calls have proliferated urging the public to take part in tomorrow's artistic festivities. "We're calling on everyone to join us tomorrow at 7:30am in downtown Cairo from where we'll take buses to Mahalla to celebrate Labour Day," Helal said.

Participants plan to spray-paint revolutionary slogans on the walls of Mahalla's largest factories and buildings.

Egyptian graffiti artist Diaa El-Sayed, who will take part in tomorrow's campaign, has provided Graffiti Hareemi with a number of his own artistic designs. "Several female artists will also provide messages in support of the movement," Helal noted.

Members of Graffiti Hareemi stress that they aren't protesting per se, but are simply hoping to register their support for Egypt's struggling working class.

"We're not protesting the conditions affecting society, but rather we're offering general criticisms about Egyptian management in regards to the working class as we see it today," Helal said.

Graffiti Hareemi was initially founded by a handful of young activists and artists with the aim of supporting the women of Egypt and raising their status within Egyptian society. Campaign participants chose 9 March as their launch date, as it coincides with the one-year anniversary of the "virginity tests" allegedly carried out by army personnel against detained female protesters in the wake of last year's uprising.

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