Aswan-based Organizations that work on women empowerment are not something we hear about so often. It was during the 25th of January revolution when a group of women in Aswan first realized the urgency of leaving room for their women to have a voice. When women were only informed about the demonstrations right before they erupted without having a direct say, and were blamed for any violations they encounter, tells us 30-year old Seham Osman, one of the Founders of the organization Ganobeya Horra and Manager of the organization’s projects, explaining how it finally came to being.
Accordingly, a group of Aswani youth came together to express the problems and issues that women and girls of Aswan face on a daily basis. It launched as an initiative in 2012, but was declared as an organization under the Ministry of Social Solidarity in 2015. The organization is a member of the Women Human Rights Defenders, and it currently leads the union for youth women groups in Egypt.
“The most prominent issues that women of Aswan face are the lack of economic empowerment since most families keep their daughters from work, female genital mutilation, marriage of the minors, and sexual harassment,” Seham elaborates.
Accordingly, combating violence against women publicly and privately, working on installing a legal unit to help the women who face violence, providing a psychological unit for violence survivors, documenting and researching Nubian women’s position in the community, encouraging women’s participation in the public sphere, working on women’s domestic issues, fighting sexism in all fields, and empowering women economically and socially, are Ganobeya Horra’s core goals and ambitions.
Through their Facebook page, the organization shares real stories of the struggles of women in Aswan. “Since we’re a closed community and women are not allowed to voice their experiences, the purpose of publishing these stories is to document their experiences as a tool for psychological relief, empowering them, and helping other women in similar situations to relate,” Seham explains. Volunteers write up these stories, but the organization lately formed a group called Genderist, and qualified them to write creatively and journalistically.
Despite the fact that the majority of Aswan’s community is dark-skinned because of the Nubians and the tribes, with the demographic change, the women there get bullied, discriminated against especially at work just because of their skin color. “The bullying and discrimination has lead them to resort to products for skin whitening despite knowing their side effect. It’s also because they know that this increases their chances of marriage and gets them out of the discrimination circle,” Seham adds.
Our most pressing question to the organization was how they managed to penetrate Aswan’s closed community and get women to talk about their issues and actually work on them. Yet, having members of different cultures and tribes with their different connections made it easier. “We also provide different programs that make each tribe entrusts us more like the psychological support, journalistic workshops, reproduction health, and more,” Seham adds.
The fact that Ganobeya Horra is based in Aswan with local members does not only make it credible, but also more efficient. It works on the ground with the most pressing issues, reaching people of all ages, categories and places. They also work with other initiatives in Cairo on encouraging girls to continue their education, combating domestic violence, sexual harassment and more!
To know more checkout their Facebook page: جنوبية حرة