In an initiative by UNFPA, UN Women, UNDP, the National Council for Women, and the Embassy of Sweden, a campaign for women’s empowerment has been launched on social media.
The campaign begins with a series of videos expressing the daily struggles Egyptian women face. They aim to deliver a strong message, with the campaign's slogan "The ta marbuta is not a character to tie you down, it's the essence of your freedom." This slogan is a play on words, using the Arabic character ta marbuta, ('tied T') commonly used to make a word feminine. The campaign uses a double meaning to tell women they do not have to be 'tied down' by the norms of the Egyptian society. The UNFPA have called on people on their Facebook page to share their picture with their favorite feminine adjective in Arabic, such as 'strong', 'ambitious' and 'positive'.
The campaign addresses both women and those who oppress them in a hope to deliver a message about the true worth of women and achieve behavioural change in Egyptian society.
In the first video, a girl is shown trapped inside a deep well, in what seems to be an unpromising attempt; she uses a small rock to try and break the wall. Eventually she breaks free through a small opening she makes for herself.
Two other other short videos in the series depict the daily struggles of Egyptian women, such as sexual harassment, imposed gender roles and professional underestimation.
The numerous videos so far constitute the campaign's soft launch, rolled out on social media as well as one TV channel, Al Kahera wal Nas. More is to come after Ramadan.
The videos have already spurred a lot of debate and inquiries on the UNFPA's Facebook page, receiving both positive and skeptical comments. One Facebook user said: "Women have achieved civil rights and now they're taking jobs away from men, we don't need this type of campaign." The UNFPA page admin simply responded with statistics that show that Egypt is ranked second in the world for sexual harassment, noting the tiny representation of women in parliament and in high profile jobs. Another user was quite impressed with the campaign and praised the intro saying: "This is beautiful and very expressive, because women can surpass the barriers in their life by believing in themselves and having faith in their own capabilities."
Image: Still from UNFPA video