Let’s skip the rant about the state of gender equality, sex education and LGBT rights in Egypt – or lack thereof. We know all too well the plight of women and, as they have been so readily labelled, ‘sexual deviants’, but beyond Facebook rants, social media rainbows and pseudo-intellectual Downtown bar-talk, how much is being done to actually progress awareness of these issues? It’s easy to object, it’s another thing altogether to actually act.
There are pockets of activity that are striving to change things, with one of the most active and effective being Ikhtyar ; a feminist collective that describe themselves as a ‘knowledge hub’ on gender and sexuality that has taken to Middle East crowdfunding website, Zoomal, in search of more resources.
As a collective working out of offices in Abassiya, Ikhtyar ‘s activities include conducting research, holding reading groups, producing original online literature and even hosting seminars and discussion groups, all in Arabic, as well as film screenings, with more forms of art in the works. But the work of Ikhtyar goes beyond Cairo; the group also puts together theatre productions in Upper Egypt – something they hope to do on a bigger scale in the future.
Funding through Zoobal will help Ikhtyar in a number of ways, the most potentially crucial one being the Abassiya office, which they hope to rent and maintain for a year. This will, in turn, allow them to put together more gender seminars, up to twenty separate film screenings, a 12-actor theatre production in Upper Egypt, over 200 books for the Ikhtyar open library and more.
With 22 days left to contribute, Ikhtyar – at the time of publishing – has reached $4,741 of its $12,000 target.
By Kalam El Qahaira