MEPI’s efforts in Egypt focus on supporting the efforts of Egyptians to achieve political and economic reform, expanding civic awareness and participation, and promoting government transparency, opportunity, and fundamental rights. For example, MEPI helps civic activists find new means to express their views to wider audiences, allowing them to expose government abuses and publicize alternative political views in ways previously deemed impossible. MEPI’s programs have helped women expand their participation in all aspects of society, from political campaigning to entrepreneurship. MEPI also partners with Egyptian government and civil society stakeholders on issues ranging from using new technology for judicial case management, to media training, to support for domestic election observers. The bulk of this work is conducted by unregistered non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in-country. In Egypt, MEPI has an important role in supporting civil society organizations, non-profit companies, law firms, trade associations and publishing houses doing pro-reform work.
Here are some of MEPI’s recent projects in Egypt:
In its first year as a member of the MENA Businesswomen’s Network, the Egypt-based Association for Women’s Total Advancement and Development (AWTAD) grew its membership to over 70 women. “We started off very small, and we wanted to work with businesses and other groups in an innovative way,” explains Shireen Allam, President of AWTAD. So far this year, as part of the MEPI BWN program, AWTAD’s activities have reached over 1,000 businesswomen in Egypt. Shireen also “knew we could help in the development of civil society, particularly for women, in the areas of health, education and training, and entrepreneurship.” AWTAD’s signature programs include a professional mentoring program for Egyptian youth, a national breast cancer awareness initiative targeting large companies and health centers, and monthly businesswomen’s networking and skills-building events.
Engy Haddad, former campaign manager for presidential candidate and “Kifaya” movement leader Ayman Nour, left the ruling National Democratic Party when it failed to uphold sexual harassment and sexual assault laws. In 2006 she founded AEHRO, which has since implemented two awards with MEPI funding: one which tackled rampant corruption in Egypt and one that addressed the importance of the rule of law and an independent judiciary. Other notable AEHRO activities include the creation of a network of citizen journalists around the country reporting on human rights abuses and civil society events and developments. These MEPI-funded activities helped build AEHRO’s capacities, enabling it to qualify for and receive a $1 million grant from USAID.
Andalus’ project, Horytna.net news, is an information and entertainment website, which also functions as a webcasting radio station. The project targets a youthful, tech-savvy audience with information technology and social networking tools that sidestep both traditional media and government censorship. Its staff consists of a rotating group of young professionals and university students, most of who work on a voluntary basis. Andalus also has initiated SMS campaigns, which have released both public service announcements to educate people about their civil and human rights and notifications regarding civil society developments (such as local meet-ups) to audiences of thousands of free subscribers.
The Online Activism Institute (OAI) uses an e-learning platform to deliver the “Create Your Activism Plan” curriculum to help participants transform their visions for change into concrete, achievable actions. Nearly 40 Egyptian civil society reformers, ages 19 to 48, have completed training, including writing their own activism plans. The participants came from a diverse array of professional fields, including students, lawyers, council members, journalists, and businesswomen. Their activism plans spanned a wide range of issues: women’s rights, local community development, election monitoring, youth civic education, human rights, good governance, and clean water. Participants said that as a result of their training, they now have clearer goals and a more comprehensive approach to their activism work. As participant Saneya El Fikki said, “It helped me organize my goals and thoughts and gave me tools to help me change these visions into reality.”
The Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) in Egypt launched its first Banking Training Program (BTP) for Egyptian youths in October 2009. The BTP, funded by MEPI and run in cooperation with the Egyptian Banking Institute and Egypt’s Banque Misr, will include 168 hours of workplace success training, 37 hours of English language training, 40 hours of technical banking training, and 28 hours of on-the-job training with Banque Misr. EFE programs in the region place graduates directly into competitive jobs. The BTP is no exception; Banque Misr will employ the future branch professionals upon successful program completion. There are 20 participants in the first class and current funding will allow for 80 more youth to enroll in subsequent classes.