Access to Justice: Legal Empowerment and Aid
In order for real advances to be made with regards to women’s rights, a holistic approach must be taken that uses the law as a basis and works to change attitudes and awareness at the same time. Government, civil society and the
media must work together to secure women’s access to justice and human rights through increasing individual awareness, enhancing the ability of community and civil society organizations to support women’s legal rights, and advocating for enforcement of laws protecting women and fighting discrimination. This initiative aims to improve the achievement of women’s rights using the legal system through awareness raising, building or strengthening legal units within NGOs, implementing a cooperative strategy for using international legal mechanisms; identifying and monitoring women’s status, challenges facing NGOs working with women and the law, and weaknesses in the legal system; and advocating for strengthening the weaknesses identified. The specific goals of this project include: improving the access of women and civil society to achieve their rights through monitoring the implementation of the law and analyzing the legal status of women, strengthening society’s legal awareness by working with media professionals, monitoring women’s status, providing legal aid for women and building a base of legal trainers who are able to help NGOs and women. ECWR’s “Access to Justice” program has been involved in many advocacy campaigns over the years, which has brought about improvements and changes in the law, including: the Nationality Law, El Khula Divorce, and the Personal Status Law. More recently, ECWR has launched aggressive campaigns to combat institutional forms of violence against women, as seen in Sudan with the female journalist who wore trousers and in the Egyptian State Council’s ban of female judges.
Making Egypt’s Streets Safe for All: Campaign against Sexual Harassment:
The project’s overall goal is to advance women’s status in society by promoting a culture of respect and personal rights that begins with changing the social acceptability among both men and women of sexual harassment in the street. In time, this will eventually affect the acceptability
of other violations whether on the street, at home, in the workplace or in the political sphere. By encouraging women to break their silence, recognize their rights, speak out against sexual harassment as a common violation of their rights, and encouraging men to support them, this project has already made important steps towards changing the way society relates to women’s rights on a daily basis. Since we began our campaign against sexual harassment, “Making Our Streets Safer for Everyone,” in late 2005, public perception of the issue has changed dramatically. Five years ago sexual harassment was a taboo subject that was not to be discussed. Now, the situation has changed immensely. Since 2005, our monitoring has shown a great deal of progress in tackling the issue of sexual harassment within the media realm.
Arab Women’s Forum:
The Arab Women’s Forum links women’s rights activists in 16 Arab countries, provides trainings & space for dialogue and operates a website about women’s current status with regards to their political & legal rights within 22 Arab countries. This regional Arab women’s movement assembled an active network of women activists throughout the Arab region (16 countries including Libya and Saudi Arabia) for mutual support, exchanging experiences, trainings and joint work. These activists have been trained not only in skills to build their own NGOs, but pledge to train groups of fledgling NGOs in their own countries.
Civil Education & Community Mobilization (2006-2009)
This project helped community leaders to build a solid and organic understanding of concepts such as human rights, gender equality, non-violence and community advocacy. Furthermore it worked to increase the capacity of Egyptian NGOs and empower them within their communities and within the legal system. The objective were to improve the current and continuing deterioration of Egypt’s fledgling democratic development, marked by the rising violence seen over the last years, particularly in the 2005 elections, and replace the growing acceptance of violence as a political strategy with a culture of tolerance and dialogue; and increase the independence of community NGOs so they are more able to resist manipulation by political forces opposed to their goals and can operate effectively under the NGO Law 84/2002, and advocate for the rights of NGOs.
FGM Regional Media Taskforce (2006-2008)
Initiated in 2006 by AIDOS, this new partnership assigns to one NGO from each of 8 African countries: Egypt, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania, the role of communicating information about FGM in its country to the international community and media. This is done via the website www.stopfgmc.org, which serves not only as a bank of information on FGM laws, actors in the field, and history, but also an updated and interactive forum for discussion and information sharing on current topics and activities.
The East Africa Four Literacies Partnership (2001-2005)
The aim is to confront female genital mutilation (FGM) & improve the status of women in 5 East African countries. The program worked on the local, national, regional and international levels to attack the root causes of women’s inequality and poverty in each region by focusing on 1) improving women’s health (body literacy), 2) developing their economic independence (economic literacy), 3) advancing education (written literacy), and 4) working for women’s participation in decision-making and furthering the cause of human rights and citizenship (civil literacy).
Expert House (2002-2003)
This program aimed at supporting elected women legislators by developing their expertise and making their political participation more effective. ECWR trained 50 women leaders with workshops on: local council rules and regulations, the organization and roles of all legislative bodies, rights and duties of members.
Women in Democratic Transition & Cadre Schools (1999-2008)
The objective of this initiative was to prepare women’s candidates to run in 2000 Parliamentary and People’s Assembly elections in order to create a new generation of women political leaders, strengthen women’s committees within the political parties and encourage women leaders to campaign for 30% women representation at all political levels.
- 1999/2000 Cadre School 1: By the end of ECWR’s 9-months training, 16 out of 25 young women who participated ran as candidates in the elections and 2 of them were elected to office.
- 2000/2001 Cadre School 2: The second phase of the Cadre School Project saw the participation of 100 women that chose to be trained by ECWR. 97 of them won their elections to the local council.
- 2001/2002 Cadre School 3: The third phase of this project trained women under 30 who already were in political parties in order to creating a new generation of women leaders within political parties.
- 2006 Cadre School 4: It aimed at training candidates in the Local Councils Elections.
- 2007 Cadre School 5: It aimed at training the elected local council members.
- 2008 Cadre School 6: In order to train women leaders in political parties.
Access to Basic Services (1999)
Enabled women to access their basic rights & services by helping them obtain ID cards. This campaign assisted women in applying for official papers and to convince government officials to help rather hinder this process. The program operated in a field office in Bortos, Giza as a model for registration projects, trained community NGOs to register people and raised awareness about the importance of having birth certificates & IDs, created a coalition of over 800 NGOs for information exchange, cooperation and mutual support in their registration efforts, and launched a national campaign to simplify the registration law.
Civic Education Program (1997)
The aim of this project was to prepare women to participate in local council elections. The specific goals of this initiative included helping women exercise political power and advocate for their interests, teaching women about the importance of their participation as voters in the election and helping them register to vote. The results obtained consisted of the registration of 12,000 voters each year and the formation of women’s advocacy groups that actively cooperate with local councils to pursue their interests.