American University Cairo witnessed the screening of “It Takes a Village” documentary co-hosted by US Embassy Cairo, UNICEF Egypt and USAID to mark 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
“It Takes a Village” was funded by USAID ($98, 972) through implementing partner, UNICEF and was premiered at the fifth edition of El Gouna Film Festival.
Through the stories of three strong Egyptian girls who are Asmaa, Alaa and Noura “It Takes A Village” encourages Egyptian girls to become changemakers in their communities, through discussions around the film with youth, parents, and leaders, this initiative advocates for the protection and empowerment of girls.
The documentary is featured on Dawwie, a USAID-funded digital platform utilized by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood in partnership with the National Council for Women.
The Dawwie platform has reached 30 million followers on Facebook since its creation in April 2019. Dawwie is part of USAID’s broader activities to empower adolescent girls in Egypt, strengthen policy and legal frameworks to assist girls at risk of FGM/C, and engage civil society and local governments in Assiut, Aswan, Qena, and Sohag to improve and expand child protection services.
DCM Shampaine closed the USAID- funded $8-million activity “Safe Cities Free from Violence Against Women and Girls” which started in October 2013 and was implemented in partnership with MoSS, NCW, and UN Women.
Safe Cities strengthened the capacity of public institutions and community service organizations to provide survivor services, including shelters, first-contact service providers, and community-based services for rehabilitation, health, legal support for survivors and their families.
Before the documentary screening in AUC, US Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen thanked AUC and UNICEF for joining the U.S. Embassy in organizing this screening.
US Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen
”We are here to place a cinematic spotlight on the need for greater investment in the rights and opportunities of women and girls” Cohen said.
US Ambassador offered special thanks to the documentary director Reem Osama for bringing her vision to life.
“ I would like to thank our Egyptian government partners for championing women’s economic empowerment here in Egypt” Cohen added.
Cohen explained that they timed this screening to coincide with the United Nations’16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
This international campaign recognizes gender-based violence as a public health emergency and also an economic catastrophe at the local, national, and global level.
“As President Biden said, (Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do—it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all)” Cohen said.
US Ambassador added that U.S. government is committed to working with Egypt to advance women’s empowerment through programming in health, education, governance, and economic growth.
“The U.S. Embassy, through USAID, has contributed over $15 million to support Egypt in efforts to end violence against women and girls. Together with UNICEF, we have improved the operations and services provided by 36 child protection committees in 4 governorates” Cohen ellaborated.
Cohen said that US is delighted to support UNICEF’s production of “It Takes a Village” to challenge Egyptian viewers, particularly adolescents in Upper Egypt, to think critically about the role girls play in their families, in society, and in the economy.
The documentary encourages girls to give voice to their opinions, advocate for themselves, and become changemakers in their communities.
“Back in September, we celebrated the achievements of “Safe Cities Free from Violence Against Women and Girls.” Through USAID, we implemented this $8 million activity to combat sexual harassment, promote legislative reforms, and improve support mechanisms for survivors of violence against women” Cohen said.
US Ambassador to Egypt added that they reached 60 million Egyptians with awareness campaigns, trained 3,000 law enforcement officials, healthcare providers, and social workers to better provide services to female victims of violence, and upgraded four women’s shelters to accommodate more survivors of domestic and sexual violence, adding that they want to continue to contribute to such work because it is vital.
“As the father of two daughters, I appreciate these initiatives personally as well as professionally. We must support young women and girls in every way possible. Our future depends on them” Cohen said.
DCM Shampaine and USAID Mission Director in Egypt Leslie Reed participated in the UNICEF screening of this film at El Gouna Film Festival with the participation of a VIP panel.
Reed said to Egypt Today after the documentary screening in AUC that she had the opportunity to meet Asmaa, Alaa and Noura at El Gouna Film Festival before watching the documentary and they are so impressive girls.
“ I am proud that the United States is supporting efforts like Dawwie with UNICEF, it also supports the government of Egypt efforts to empower and give opportunities to women, it is great to see all these efforts bearing fruits and these girls are finally achieving their dreams” USAID Mission Director in Egypt recounted.
Reed explained that USAID has wide range of programs that aim to empower women and they range from scholarship programs to stem learning, in addition to crew development at centers and universities.
” We do a wide range of activities that aim to empower women. I would like to emphasize something that Jeremy from UNICEF said that this is not just a moral imperative but it is also an economic imperative, for Egypt economy to grow at the pace it needs to, we have to see women engaged and everyone have equal opportunities” Reed said.
The message Reed wants to send on the occasion of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is that when we look at girls like Asma, Noura and Alaa we have to ask ourselves why we are not taking this more seriously and why we have not made more progress in this issue.
”It is our responsibility to make sure that these girls aren’t subjected to any harmful practices” Reed recounted.
Country Representative of UN Women Egypt Christine Arab said to Egypt Today that the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence are over, they have been enormously busy days from looking at harmful practices.
“We have a number of UN member states, Norway, with UNFPA they brought in playwrights from Upper Egypt to do a play to teach around about FGM, UN Women With European Union and kingdom of Netherlands and government of Egypt had a large event in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. UNICEF made a number of events at the community level that were really important, there is been events in Alexandria, Upper Egypt ,Bibliotheca Alexandrina, also National Council for Women and National Council for Childhood and Motherhood made countless events, and one key thing we tried to do is not to look at violence only but look at how everything is connected” Arab recounted.
Arab said that women and girls always say that they need a good job and ask themselves why can’t I get a good job, I had to take care of children in the house, why doesn’t someone help me in the house, so everyone is involved from the government to Development partners.
“ A film like this we can use in multiple ways in a village to start a conversation and that what we try to, whenever we take things to the village level, it is not what we see in the news, the questions are very thoughtful, women in the village say I do these things because I see it will help my daughter, I do these things to see my daughter safe, so it is very questioning and that an excellent thing and when we talk to young men as individuals they have very serious concerns, they say why do you only talk about girls why not about boys, I have needs too, they are not against girls but they want their voices to be heard too, it is important because a lot of negative things that happened come from a man or boy feeling hard things, UN work with young men, and when you push them a little bit they are very open” Arab said.