Farida Osman visiting Safer Cities for Girls project - Egypt Today/Yasmine Hassan
CAIRO – 30 October 2017: Carrying a message of empowerment, perseverance and hope, international swimming champion, Farida Osman, visited Ezbet Khairallah slum in Old Cairo on Saturday, where she got together with young girls and boys of the area.
“I hope I can encourage you and help you achieve what you want and follow the path you choose because I feel like every girl deserves and is capable to realize a lot of accomplishments for Egypt,” Osman addressed the young ladies at “Safer Cities for Girls” project.
The project, a collaboration between Plan International organization, UN-HABITAT and Women in Cities International, aims at building safe, accountable, and inclusive cities with and for adolescent girls. It is implemented in five cities worldwide, including Cairo, since 2014, where it accommodates 1,000 girls and 300 boys.
“We invited Osman to join us so that we can inspire girls in such communities that there are no boundaries and that they have to go out and pursue their dreams,” Plan Egypt’s Strategic Partnership and Advocacy Manager Noha Abdel Hamid told Egypt Today. “We want to show them that there is a very positive model, who is almost their age; she fought and overcame a lot of challenges and managed to achieve a world record.”
Plan Egypt and Al-Nour organization, the executive partner in the project, arranged a gathering, where Osman talked to girls and boys about the personal challenges she has managed to overcome, answered their questions and listened to their own dreams and goals.
“I want to become a heart doctor and I will study hard until I achieve my dream,” Yara, 15, told Osman.
Safer Cities for Girls project targets adolescent girls between 13 and 18 years old. It works with the girls and members of the community of Ezbet Khairallah to spread awareness about girls’ rights and eliminate the dangers of sexual harassment.
“We also work with government entities to create a communication line between them and the girls, where they can express their opinions and concerns,” Mona Hussein, Plan advocacy communications coordinator, explained.
The project further provides self-defense trainings and diverse sessions for the girls, to know their rights and express them in a productive way. It has just recently expanded to include the boys in the area as well, Hussein added.
“I am really interested to help women in Egypt in general to achieve what they want. I want to be a good ambassador to them,” Osman told Egypt Today.
“I want to make use of the fact that I am an athlete and I have learned a lot and been through a lot; and I felt like Plan would be a good way for that.”
Farida Osman visits "Safer Cities for Girls" - EgyptToday/Yasmine Hassan
Nicknamed the Golden Fish, Osman was the first ever Egyptian to claim a medal in the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) World Championships, held in August 2017.
The 22-year old started swimming at four years old. At 11, she participated in her first national championship, where she won four gold medals. A year later, she represented Egypt in the African league and has been a national source of pride since then.
A two times Olympian, Osman was also the first-ever Egyptian woman to win a gold medal at the 2011 FINA World Junior Championships and she is the African and Egyptian record holder in the 50m freestyle. She has recently graduated from University of California, Berkley, and is currently getting ready for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I want to encourage girls to pursue their path of choice … It will be difficult and will need sacrifice but when they reach what they want, it will be the best feeling ever,” the Golden Fish told Egypt Today.
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