For the eighth instalment of our Interview Series, Reem Abdellatif joined us for a conversation on organizing against gender discrimination, love for Egypt, and activism across the African continent. She shared her own history of undergoing abuse and GBV (gender based violence) and talked to us about how becoming a women’s rights activist has greatly contributed to her journey of healing and thriving.
Reem is a writer, activist, and co-founder of AWRA (African Women Rights Advocates). She and six other African women founded AWRA in 2020 to advocate for the rights of African women, campaign to end gender discrimination and violence, and empower women, youth, and survivors of GBV. The AWRA blog is a safe space for healing and solidarity, that in a short amount of time has captured the eye of global institutions such as the UNHCR. Reem is a life coach based in the Netherlands. She has also worked as a journalist and has published pieces in WSJ, Haaretz, and Al-Monitor.
The following is Reem’s press release for Egypt Migrations:
“This campaign is near and dear to my heart. I’m an Egyptian-American woman, a first generation daughter of Egyptian immigrants, who watched how intergenerational trauma not only tore apart her parents, but our family. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse as a child at the hands of my own father, I’m a woman who has experienced sexual harassment in the streets of Egypt and watched other young women go through the same. At least 98 percent of women in Egypt said that they’ve experience harassment at some point in their lives (UN). I’m also the descendant of grandmothers who were child brides and survivors of FGM in Egypt – both were married at the age of 12 and 14. Egypt can and must do more to end FGM and gender-based violence, as well as discrimination. Egyptian laws and cultural stigmas often silence survivors. Women and girls face victim-blaming when they come forth to share their stories, and this needs to finally end. The only way it ends is if girls continue to take up space in society, and continue to hold our governments accountable. Trauma has impacted generations of Egyptian women (Egypt has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world). It can impact generations to come, and that is why it has to end somewhere. Pope Shenouda said that Egypt is a country that lives in us. That is very true. It is because I love Egypt and my Egyptian ancestors that I do this work. It is because we love Egypt that we want to hold the government accountable and to higher standards when it comes to women and human rights. Because Egypt is a country that lives in us, so does its trauma. But out of trauma, light is sometimes born. This campaign is a way to alchemize our trauma into light, it is a unique cross-cultural collaboration of women, survivors, Egyptians, and non-Egyptians alike who want to see women and girls thrive. There’s nothing more beautiful than that.”
To read the full transcript of our conversation with Reem, please visit this page.
This is the eighth in a series of interviews with artists, academics, activists, and other migrants of Egypt around the world. Check out previous conversations in the series and stay tuned for our next installment.
Here are some external links to get to know Reem and her work better:
AWRA Blog: https://awra-group.org/blog
AWRA blog from Egyptian women right’s activist & AWRA researcher/intern
Esraa Wagih, who first came forth publicly with her story on AWRA:
Reem Abdellatif’s Haaretz portfolio:
Her work on Egypt from 2014:
Her piece on healing generational trauma:
Egypt Migrations is always looking for people to contribute to our digital initiatives. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join or support the organization.