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My vision: Inspiring change through women's voices of solutions

Nawal Al-Saadawi, a prominent Egyptian feminist-activist and author, who is well into her 80s and still rocking it, dedicated one of her novels to “male and female wanderers, in search of hope.” That phrase resonates with me so much. I am a female wanderer in search of hope who wants to make a difference. But more specifically, I want to dedicate my work and entirely shift my focus lens to changing women's lives.

Combining journalism and development has always been important. But, in these past few years, combining journalism, development and feminism has become a passion. I want to capture and write stories about women's everyday struggles as well as their extraordinary feats and how they bring new ideas and solutions to the world.

To me, that starts with the women who take problems and turn them into an opportunity to make a real change.

For example, that's exactly what the young women at HarassMap are doing (http://harassmap.org/en/) Recently, I conducted an interview with this inspiring young feminist initiative out of Egypt.

HarassMap works on combating street sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment is a daily struggle for women (and even some men) in Egypt; from catcalls, to groping all the way to more extreme forms of sexual harassment like rape. But, four young women decided they had enough. Together, they co-founded HarassMap, the online reporting system that empowers victims to share an incident of harassment and map out where it happened. The information collected online is used by teams of volunteers to talk to people in their neighbourhoods and convince them that harassment needs to stop. More than just a mapping tool, HarassMap wants to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment.

While harassment is a daily occurrence, over the past months, there has been a surge in gang rape and violence in and around Tahrir square, in Cairo. Women’s rights groups say these attacks have been organized by the government to try to stop young women from claiming their rightful space to be at demonstrations and in the public sphere. But, the response from young Egyptian women has been: “You will not stop us, you will not break us. This is our revolution, these are our streets.”

I had the honour of interviewing Rebecca Chiao, co-founder of HarassMap. You can listen to their inspiring story here: https://soundcloud.com/awid-1/interview-with-harassmap-co

From Egypt, I fly back to Canada where there are also examples of Canadian women of action. (I'm often trying to strike a delicate balance between the country of my roots (Egypt) and the country where my parents chose to immigrate and have me :) (Canada))

A prime example of Canadian women making waves is in the fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Let me tell you the amazing story of the Radical Handmaids (RH) http://radicalhandmaids.com/about/.

When parliamentarians were trying to pass an anti-abortion bill that would rollback the long and hard-fought right to legal and safe abortions, the RH decided it was time to fight back – CREATIVELY! So, women, who were angry about this attack on reproductive rights in Canada, were asked to channel all their anger into knitting wooly wombs and sending them to members of parliament. So, they did. (Imagine the scene: a middle aged anti-choice member of parliament gets a wooly womb in the mail and thinks: what's that?) :D

The result: by creatively resisting anti-choice attacks on reproductive rights, the RH managed to strike down the proposed anti-abortion bill. But, the fight is not over. Conservative members of parliament are trying new tactics (and passing of a new bill!) to undermine Canadian women's rights to abortions. The Radical Handmaids are a prime example of women's creative spirit at work.

Unfortunately, not many people know these amazing stories. These are the kinds of women's voices of solution I want to shine a light on through Voices of our Future.

Simply put, my vision for the future is a feminist world where women, children, men are living free and equal.

AND, I leave you to think about this vision of mine with the following quote: “Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions.. for safety on the streets… for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.” (If someone says) ‘Oh, I’m not a feminist,’ (I ask) ‘Why? What’s your problem?’” -Dale Spender

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Sharontina's picture

Thanks for those links dear.

Thanks for those links dear. Got to make some time to see it. Your writing is so compelling flushing in more and more energy, the vision put very simple in a single statement that tells it all.

Much love

Merlin Sharontina

Nelly Bassily's picture

Thank you for your comment!

Thank you for your comment! With time, determination and allies, feminism will rise above patriarchy, that I am convinced of. It starts with each of our voices and it will spread like wild fire :D

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Jumi's picture

Very useful resources

Thanks for providing the rich information, Nelly. Women all over the world continue to fight back because women like you choose to act. Your efforts are not in vain.

loretta's picture

Good work Neilly.

I am happy that you have made so much strides in helping and encouraging women to fight for their, freedom, rights and recognition. Above all by contributing in raising your Voice on a public platform like Worlp Pulse so resoundingly.

Keep up the good work, it will pay off.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Nelly Bassily's picture

Thank you!

Hi Loretta,
Thank you for your kind message.
Your words of support are much appreciated and really needed.
:)
-Nelly

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Dear Neily nice to read about what are you doing and i was following the harassmap campain myself thought we could use this for police officer miss use of authourity as many of them are harrasing priibing and miss using their power and uniform.
Thank you very much
Stay well
Ola

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace
www.suwepmovement.org

Nelly Bassily's picture

Yes!

Dear Ola,
Yeah i think that would be a good idea to use the same online mapping system that Harassmap is using to map and report police abuse. The platform is called Ushahidi and its open source, which means it can be used by anyone. If you want, i can put you in touch with the harassmap team and they can tell you about their experience.
Let me know,
-Nelly

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Dana Anderson's picture

Go Journalism!

I really enjoyed reading your piece because you highlight the fact that journalism often uncovers these creative modes of resistance. With an eye for the astounding, unusual and captivating, journalism can be a true tool for passing on inspiring instances of empowerment (and of course is itself a means of raising our voices).

I also enjoyed this because of the two examples you used to illustrate your point. I loved learning about both of these! Harassmap shows how technology, innovation and determined women can produce amazing solutions.

Thank you for sharing your vision, and good luck!

Dana

Mila's picture

Thanks Nelly

Hi Nelly,

Thank you for writing and for being a part of the WorldPulse community! I really enjoyed reading your piece and learning about two new organizations! I really appreciate your enthusiasm and know that are and will continue to better women's lives everyone. One thing to watch out for in your writing is the world limit--you were over the limit in the assignment.

All the best,
Mila

PS--loved the quote your included at the end!

BUHENDWA NEEMA's picture

ok

courage à vous;bien de vous lire

neema

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