Artwork for the UN Women interactive website, Violence Against Women: Facts Everyone Should Know. Image: UN Women
CAIRO – 22 July 2020: An online discussion titled 'Violence against Women and the Role of The Media and Social Media' took place last week as part of the British Council’s society program ‘A Safe Campus Community for All’.
The discussion took place under the auspice of Dr. Mohamed Osman El-Khosht, President of Cairo University, funded by the European Union, the 'Active Citizens' program of the British Council, and the Think Tank initiative.
The online event, which was joined by 50 participants and speakers from university students and staff, resulted in defining forms of violence against women, and the importance of changing certain outlooks regarding women in contemporary societies.
Part of the live conference
The participants also discussed various forms of violence against women through social media platforms.
The meeting comes in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that forced people to stay home, leading to a rise in the use of social media platforms, accompanied by an increase in the rates of digital violence against women, including racism, direct or non-direct physical or sexual harassment and online privacy violation, which creates an unhealthy digital environment for women.
A 2013 analysis conduct by the World Health Organization (WHO)
with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South Africa Medical Research Council, used existing data from over 80 countries and found that worldwide, 1 in 3, or 35%, of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence.
Yosr Gado, Head of Society Programs at the British Council, commented, "Despite the current difficult conditions, awareness and training campaigns will continue, to develop the skills of our youth and women to achieve an enabling environment."
The discussion was moderated by Dr. Howaida Mostafa, Dean of Faculty of Mass Communication and Head of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Unit, and Dr. Amira Towadross, the Executive Director of the unit, at Cairo University.
President of the Cairo University Dr. Mohamed Osman Elkhosht commented on the role played by the VAWG Unit saying, “Cairo University has an important social mission to fight all forms of violence against women to spread the values of equality and raise awareness on the importance of creating a higher education environment that is safe for all, through the VAWG Unit at the Campus, which is joined by university staff and students.
“The Unit aims to provide a safe environment that educates students on their duties and responsibilities, spreads the culture of gender equality and mutual respect, and creates a discrimination free community on campus, through implementing all violence against women policies, taking all necessary measures in doing so, by training effective calibers to nurture an enabling culture for women."
The action plan, as part of the University’s work dedicated to women, is a byproduct of the “Preliminary Principles of University Document for Culture and Enlightenment” launched in 2017, and based on "no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, or any kind of discrimination". It was activated and implemented in all university sections, in an effort to adopt a new philosophy of fairness, free competition and equal opportunity. "
Simultaneously, the VAWG Unit at Cairo University continues to extend efforts to change the mindsets of over 300,000 graduate students around women. The unit is working to give them all support and knowledge needed to become mentally and physically qualified to avoid and prevent all forms of violence: on the ground; on different social media platforms and; online, to ultimately achieve the university’s goal of a safe campus for women that is free of all violence.