Farida Al-Nakash pre­sides over Egyp­tian Writ­ers Con­fer­ence 32nd ses­sion

EGYP­TIAN WOMEN ARE AL­WAYS THE LAST IN LINE AND THE FIRST TO BE EX­CLUDED, SAYS AL-NAKASH

The Daily News Egypt - - Front Page - By Ne­hal Samir

In your opin­ion, why has a woman not been ap­pointed to be the pres­i­dent of the con­fer­ence be­fore?

It is the woman’s gen­eral sta­tus in Egypt; she is al­ways the last in line and the first one to be ex­cluded.

There are al­ways reser­va­tions on the ap­point­ment of women in se­nior po­si­tions, whether in the state or the so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions, as a re­sult of the mas­culin­ity cul­ture es­tab­lished hun­dreds of years ago.

The writ­ers have an en­light­en­ing and pro­gres­sive view of women, but they didn’t think be­fore to ap­point a woman as a pres­i­dent of the con­fer­ence.

In your opin­ion, why were you cho­sen for this po­si­tion?

I am no stranger to this cul­tural con­fer­ence. I have been one of its founders, a per­ma­nent mem­ber of its gen­eral sec­re­tar­iat since its in­cep­tion, and I left this po­si­tion only when I be­came ed­i­tor-in-chief for Al-Ahali news­pa­per.

More­over, I par­tic­i­pated in all its edi­tions with a few ex­cep­tions, so I was the first one who peo­ple thought about when 2017 was an­nounced as a year for women.

In the 2003 edi­tion, you sup­ported the fe­male writ­ers and in­tel­lec­tu­als by sug­gest­ing a ses­sion to dis­cuss women’s cre­ativ­ity. Tell us about this sug­ges­tion and how it was re­ceived by the con­fer­ence pres­i­dent and sec­re­tar­iat.

I sug­gested in­tro­duc­ing a group of new fe­male nar­ra­tors, po­ets, writ­ers, and crit­ics. The pro­posal was warmly wel­comed and widely sup­ported by all the writ­ers— even the con­fer­ence pres­i­dent and sec­re­tar­iat.

More­over, this ses­sion was an en­joy­able one, where all women read some of their work, and there was a lot of dis­cus­sion about women’s cre­ativ­ity.

What rec­om­men­da­tions will you put for­ward this year at the con­fer­ence to sup­port women?

I have not yet seen the agenda or the re­search that will take part in the con­fer­ence, but I have a set of gen­eral ideas that I will make dur­ing the con­fer­ence. The main one is to con­tinue what I be­gan in 2003, which is to in­tro­duce more women from all gov­er­norates across Egypt.

What are the great­est chal­lenges fac­ing fe­male writ­ers nowa­days?

The main chal­lenge is the nar­row spa­ces of free­dom de­spite the breadth of speak­ing plat­forms.

Are women still suf­fer­ing from dif­fer­ent kinds of dis­crim­i­na­tion by men in cul­tural medi­ums?

Yes, it was no co­in­ci­dence that the Con­sti­tu­tion of 2014 is­sued an ar­ti­cle call­ing for the es­tab­lish­ment of a com­mis­sion against dis­crim­i­na­tion and not against the dis­crim­i­na­tion of Chris­tians only.

Mean­while, there is dis­crim­i­na­tion against many groups, such as women, blacks, and poor peo­ple. But women are at the heart of this dis­crim­i­na­tion.

More­over, this ex­ists in all cir­cles, in­clud­ing the in­tel­lec­tu­als.

What do you think about the law­suit that Om­nia Gadal­lah filed against the State Coun­cil for not en­rolling women in the coun­cil?

This is an old case dat­ing back to 1951, when Aisha Rateb grad­u­ated from the Fac­ulty of Law. She asked to join the State Coun­cil and sub­mit­ted her papers. She was told that there is no le­gal im­ped­i­ment and this is your right, but the cir­cum­stances are not ap­pro­pri­ate.

Fur­ther­more, years passed and the State Coun­cil con­tin­ues to say the same thing as what Al-San­houry said in 1951 to Aisha Rateb.

2017, which was an­nounced by the pres­i­dent as the year of women, is near­ing an end. In your opin­ion, what were the rad­i­cal changes that oc­curred dur­ing this year to im­prove the sta­tus of women?

There have been no rad­i­cal changes. All changes were for­mal­i­ties so far. There are po­si­tions where women are for­bid­den to en­ter, and women’s un­em­ploy­ment rate is three times the un­em­ploy­ment rate of men.

Women’s poverty is still more than that of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion in Egyp­tian so­ci­ety.

Mean­while, the pres­i­dent ap­pointed the first fe­male gov­er­nor this year, which was a great achieve­ment, but not a rad­i­cal change, as rad­i­cal change in the so­ci­ety is linked to the poli­cies that elim­i­nate phe­nom­ena such as ex­ploita­tion, poverty, or dis­crim­i­na­tion.

As the In­ter­na­tional Day for the Elim­i­na­tion of Vi­o­lence Against Women ap­proaches, in your opin­ion, what are the most prom­i­nent types of vi­o­lence against Egyp­tian women?

It is said, but I did not study this is­sue, that sex­ual ha­rass­ment in Egypt is the high­est ha­rass­ment rate in the world, al­though I doubt that. But dis­crim­i­na­tion against women, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, poverty, and il­lit­er­acy are kinds of vi­o­lence against women in Egypt.

I AM NO STRANGER TO THIS CUL­TURAL CON­FER­ENCE. I HAVE BEEN ONE OF ITS FOUNDERS, A PER­MA­NENT MEM­BER OF

ITS GEN­ERAL SEC­RE­TAR­IAT SINCE ITS IN­CEP­TION

Farida Al-Nakash

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