When 18 year Amina Amr found out the true, terrible extent of gender inequality in Egypt, she realized that something must be done. This is why she started 7ekoukik; an Egyptian NGO raising awareness about gender equality and feminism.
It all started when Amina was given Nawal El Saadawy’s Woman at Point 0 by her teacher to read at school. This is when many people told her that Nawal El Saadawy’s work exaggerates the situation in Egypt, “I asked my teacher ‘why did you give us a book that paints our society with such an exaggerating tone’ and she said ‘I would have never thought I’d hear something so ignorant from someone like you’”, Amina tells, “this really moved me and made me do a lot of research on the condition of women from different social classes and I realized that I was in a bubble and didn’t know what happened around me”.
“for example women having a say over their bodies is different in different classes. Some women have to go through circumcision and they don’t have a say over it”
When it comes to gender inequality, even then there’s always a social gap at work, “for example women having a say over their bodies is different in different classes. Some women have to go through circumcision and they don’t have a say over it”, she explains.
When dealing with such a topic, support comes in many forms, “women support the movement more than men, of course”, she tells. When it comes to the value of feminism, Amina believes it’s about empowerment. Not everyone understands that, “people think that feminism means that women want to have more rights than men”, she says, “but the truth is that feminism is about gender equality”. Amina’s feminism was influenced by her teacher, Nawal El Saadawy and many other female icons, “I believe I’m a feminist because I believe that I have the same rights as men to feel safe in the streets of my country, that I can be financially independent, and that if a man chooses to be a stay at home dad there’s no reason why he shouldn’t, because I believe in equality”, she says.
“a man who supports women must truly believe in gender equality. He would be supportive to his partner and the women around him and treat them as equals.”
That being said, being a feminist doesn’t mean that Amina doesn’t believe that men and women are different, “of course they’re different, but the idea behind feminism is that we accept those differences while at the same time believing we’re equals”, she explains. Feminism can be embraced by men as well, “a man who supports women must truly believe in gender equality. He would be supportive to his partner and the women around him and treat them as equals. He would empower the women around him to pursue their dreams and get an education”, she tells.
While that is the case, many blame feminism for discrimination against men, “I believe that once we achieve equality we’ll remain equal, but of course I don’t know what might happen in a hundred years, perhaps women will have more rights than men, but I don’t know”, she says.
“while 7ekoukik is about women’s rights, we address both men and women.”
Amina’s NGO, 7ekoukik works on many levels to combat gender inequality, “we’re still in the beginning of our journey and we’re raising awareness mainly on two things. The first is sexual harassment and how women can take care of themselves if they go through it and how men should not do it”, she explains, “because while 7ekoukik is about women’s rights, we address both men and women. And we raise awareness about FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) as well, the rates of which are rising”. When it comes to FGM, while it’s not an easy thing to discuss, “there might be many women around you who have gone through this but they don’t talk about it because it’s taboo”, she tells. In order to combat all of this, workshops are done for women where the people of 7ekoukik talk to them and empower them to pursue their dreams.
The future seems bright and full of possibilities for 7ekoukik, “I have a lot planned for it, one of the things is a self defense workshop over the course of a few days”, she explains, “women would be taught self defense to help them defend themselves in the case of harassment or rape”. Not only that, but Amina would also like to help women from impoverished communities by listening to their problems and working with them on making their dreams come true and teaching them about gender equality.