Building safer communities for women

Omneya Yousry, Tuesday 7 Dec 2021

Egypt’s E7kky magazine has been working on six campaigns as part of 16 days of UN-sponsored activism to build safer communities for women, reports Omneya Yousry

Violence against women
Break the Cycle campaign to end violence against women

Domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, abortion clinic violence and hate crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, or race are all examples of violence against women that can also be perpetuated by gender prejudice in the justice system and social and cultural discrimination. 

For this reason, Egypt’s E7kky (Narrate) magazine is launching six different campaigns in celebration of 16 days of activism organised by the UN to end violence against women. With the collaboration of five official partners, it aims to make people all over Egypt more aware about violence against women, to encourage them to take action against it, to highlight violence survivors, and to give hope for safer community existence. 

Namees Arnous, founder and CEO of the magazine, says it started in 2016 to tell women’s stories and shed light on Egyptian women’s experiences. It is now considered one of the most influential platforms in Egypt supporting and empowering women through storytelling and awareness activities. 

E7kky online magazine is owned by my company E7kky Network for Media Production and Marketing. We are 13 team members, and the team is responsible for content creation, visual arts, graphic design, digital marketing, social media, search-engine optimisation (SEO), videography, photography, finance, business development and administration and management,” Arnous said.

“Our team works closely and in harmony to implement our different campaigns on social media and the daily content of our website. We believe that each and every follower of E7kky is voluntary support for us by spreading our content and engaging and raising awareness. There are many celebrities among our audience, and we appreciate this kind of support as well.” 

“I   graduated from the Mass Communications Faculty in Cairo, and I have always had a passion for storytelling since I started my career at 18 as a reporter for one of the most-viewed TV stations and talk shows. I used to tell stories about people. I then realised there was a gap when it comes to stories about gender and women, and as a woman and a storyteller I decided to start a safe media space for women to share their stories and experiences and to get educated and informed with valuable information about almost everything related to our lives as women,” she added.

“It was for these reasons that I started E7kky.”

The 16 days of activism against violence against women is “an international initiative by the UN to celebrate efforts to end violence against girls and women or gender-based violence in general. The world is trying to raise awareness through the 16 days to eliminate violence against girls and women,” Arnous said.

In order to work in line with the UN initiative and exploit the world’s focus during the 16 days, E7kky is working with partners in its ongoing campaigns including the Dutch Embassy in Egypt, the EU in Egypt, EU Neighbour South, Oxfam and Cinnabon, both NGOs. The magazine has its own independent awareness campaign to encourage women to speak up and report violence. 

Sponsors and partners provide a variety of support, ranging from financial sponsorship to non-financial partnerships. “Our relationships with our partners are founded on the common goal of launching a public-awareness campaign to end violence against girls and women,” Arnous noted. “For example, the Netherlands embassy’s campaign with E7kky tells 21 stories by 21 influential women from 2021 and will be published during the 16 days to send a message that a safer world is a space in which women can succeed. Cinnabon approached E7kky to be their partner platform to spread the message that happiness happens when we promote awareness to end violence against girls and women and the need to live in a safer world.” 

“Our collaboration with the EU in Egypt is to promote a message of ending violence against women now. I have done an interview with the head of the EU delegation in Egypt, Christian Burger and his spouse, to find out more about EU efforts to empower women and eliminate violence against girls and women in Egypt.”

“With EU Neighbour South, there will be a video published on our platform and their platforms to promote resources for support and help that women can access if they are exposed to violence. Oxfam’s campaign is to raise awareness about gender stereotypes in the workplace. The campaign is to create awareness about the topic, in addition to publishing films made by young filmmakers after training with Oxfam. They aim to raise awareness about different gender stereotypes in workplaces.”

E7kkys various campaigns are meant to help women to speak up, tell their stories, and share their experiences as a first step to ending violence against girls and women. They are designed to help them understand different types of violence, how violence should not be acceptable and to understand the costs of violence against women and girls. The campaigns will help women to find resources if they need help or know somebody needing help. 

But the campaigns are not only designed for women, Arnous added. “They are for men and women and the whole society to help them to understand that violence against girls and women affects the whole society, not only victims and survivors. All of us should share, talk and be part of the awareness to ending violence against females.” 

Women and girls from different social classes or backgrounds are targeted, because all women may face the same types of problems and challenges. Violence against women happens to all and is not restricted to specific groups. “We have our own website and use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube as forms of communication. Soon, we will be live on Tiktok,” Arnous commented.

The magazine faces various challenges, including financial, like any other startup. There are issues of sustainability and finding funding and sponsorships, and there is the major challenge of changing the mindset of a male-dominated society that may not accept women-related content. 

“These challenges are the most common in my daily work, but each challenge has its own innovative solution, and these are what we are trying to find,” Arnous said. At the end of the day, we all should believe that such efforts will pay off and bring about noteworthy change in society. 

“After almost six years of E7kky, I can say that we have made a change and had an impact in what we have done and are still doing in communicating with our followers and audiences. The changes in mindsets, in how lives are changing based on daily content and our campaigns, how women are becoming more powerful by having a safe space to share their experiences and tell their stories – all these are part of a noticeable and positive change,” Arnous concluded.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 9 December, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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