The E7na Summit is the first of its kind to take place in Egypt. It was launched online in the form of a free Webinar on Zoom. It took place on November 13th and 14th.
The Summit included three Workshops and four Panel discussions given by prominent experts concerned with combatting Sexual Assault in Egypt. There was Sally Toma, a renowned Psychiatrist working with O7 Therapy Application, who gave a workshop about setting boundaries in a sexual context. There was also Hala Essam, a psychosexual therapist of the same center who gave a workshop about dealing with survivors of sexual violence. That’s in addition to Nour Emam, Egyptian Doula and founder of ‘Mother Being’: the maternity care service whose Instagram platform had a significant role in the latest anti-sexual harassment movement.
The first Panel discussion held was titled ‘Things You Can Do From the Comfort of Your Home for the Sexual Harassment Cause’.
It included online figures dedicated to raising awareness about all forms of violence against women. There was Pancé Nwaisar, founder of 7emaya. Also, Molk Said, founder of EedWahda. Ally Salama, Mental Health Coach and founder of EMPWR Magazine were also there. So was Nadeen Ashraf, founder of Assault Police. The panel was hosted by Digital Creator Sherine Arafa.
The Second Panel held was called ‘Ongoing Initiatives by Organizations to Fight Sexual Harassment’.
It included Sally Zohney UNFPA representative. In addition to Yasmine Hamden GIZ YASH representative. Also, member of parliament Dr. Marianne Azer. It was hosted by Dr. Mervant Abou Oaf, a Media professor and member of the National Council for Women.
The third panel was titled ‘Know Your Rights: Understanding the Legal Procedures to Report a Harasser’.
It included Member of Parliament, Lawyer, and member of National Council for Women, Manal El-Gamil and Dr. Mervat Abou Oaf, who is also a member of the National Council of Women and a Media Professor at the American University in Cairo. It also included Nada El-Dib, Founder of Maatisaal as well as Lawyer Adham Abdel Moneim. It was hosted by Soraya Bahgat, the activist for Women and Girls.
The fourth Panel was called ‘Protecting Your Children: How to Discuss Sexual Harassment With Your Kids’.
It included Founder of Safe Kids Sarah Aziz as well as of Mamahood and More Salma El Masry. In addition to sex education and Autism researcher Nadia Abdel Halim. It was hosted by our very own May Abdel Asim, Founder and Managing Director of Media & More and What Women Want Magazine.
The foundation was established by Dania Younis and Sarah Yassin. Dania Younis has been working in the field of creative marketing since 2012. She is currently the communications manager at The American Research Center in Egypt and aims to pursue a career in development. Sarah Yassin works in the field of Movement and Healing Arts. She is a feminist body-positivity advocate who creates safe spaces through teaching Yoga, bodywork, and therapeutics. The two women had an epiphany right before the anti-sexual harassment movement gained traction in Egypt. Her mission is to uplift and empower women to become the unapologetically wild and confident creatures they truly are.
In May of 2019, Sarah was in Mexico when she first called her friend Dania, shaken up by a recent harassment incident. They both felt they could do something about the enduring problem of sexual harassment in Egypt. That’s when they decided to establish ‘E7na’ and launch the first Online Summit about Sexual Harassment in Egypt.
How did you come to think of creating this summit? What were the goals/mission you had in mind before taking this decision?
The fight to combat sexual harassment in Egypt has been going on for decades. We had decided to establish an initiative against sexual harassment together, and we were witnessing the conversation gaining a new kind of attention in the country. That’s when we came to the conclusion that offering an inclusive platform should be our mission.
Dania came up with the idea of a summit. A platform to offer a one-of-a-kind setting. Its function was to make it easier for organizations, initiatives, foundations, and individuals working against sexual abuse to meet, network, share expertise, support, and offer services to survivors of sexual assault.
“We saw the need for “unity”, and we knew if we don’t act now, we may miss this narrow window of opportunity to turn the tide by collectively working on combatting this social disease.”
Did you have any personal challenges/doubts about taking this initiative? What did people in your circle think?
Ever since we started this, we have received nothing but an incredible support and positive feedback from our circles as well as anyone we reached out to in order to participate in the summit.
The only challenge was our capacity as founders and a team of volunteers. But we know that we will be able to recruit more members for our future projects.
We have been friends ever since we were students at the American University in Cairo, and we have worked together before. We are very lucky and grateful that we both have the same work ethic and management style.
Why ‘E7na’? Where did the name come from?
Sexual harassment affects each and everyone in society regardless of age, gender, and background. We wanted a simple and relatable keyword in Arabic to reflect ‘unity’. So, Sarah came up with “E7na” and it clicked with both of us from the very beginning!
Why a Summit and not an awareness page/campaign?
An event in the form of an educational summit has many advantages in terms of bridging the gap between the public and relevant professionals. That way, we could spread awareness, educate, coalesce, and connect.
The content of a summit can be utilized on pages and in campaigns later. A summit, though, offers the opportunity of a bigger reach. That way, we can amplify efforts to combat sexual harassment and create a channel for engagement and direct impact for the attendees.
“This online summit is only one of many projects we have in our pipeline, we are working towards hosting more online and on-ground summits, creating digital content, and educational programs.”
How did you choose the panelists and contributors and hosts?
Together with our Research team, we identified a variety of areas impacted by sexual harassment and this was mainly how we chose panelists, speakers, hosts, and partners; based on their professional backgrounds and experiences.
One thing we found really interesting was the Nour Emam class “Understanding the Female Body”, how would you say this is relevant to raising awareness about sexual harassment?
This was one of the most successful workshops held in the summit in terms of both tackling this unique topic and the number of attendees.
“Understanding the female body, whether by girls and women themselves or by their spouses, is the first step to understanding one’s personal boundaries and one of the remedies of healing from sexual trauma”
Are you satisfied with how the Summit went? Would you consider it a success?
We are very thankful for this experience and we consider it a huge success for our launch. We did not expect the number of registrations or media coverage. Most importantly, the amount of positive feedback from the attendees. The public largely supported and encouraged the Summit.
How effective would you say online activism is in combatting sexual assault?
We believe that online activism provided room for the initiation and the continuity of the dialogue itself. The conversation needs to keep going and learning platforms need to be available and easily accessible.
Will you do it again next year, if yes, what would you do differently?
We will do this again next year online and hopefully on-ground as well. We are definitely aiming for a bigger scale and higher reach.
What’s next for E7na and what’s next for Dania and Sarah?
E7na is working on providing digital educational and conversational content as well as preparations for next year’s events.
We are both heavily focused on expansion plans for E7na but besides that, Dania is focusing on her career path in NGOs and applying for her master’s degree in the near future and Sarah is continuing to offer her teachings in movement, therapy, and launching a new platform that will provide practices, meditations, and online courses.