A part of this effort, the British Embassy Cairo and the Centre for Democracy and Social Peace Studies in Alexandria ran an roundtable discussion on 21 August on empowering women in countering violent extremism. Co-chaired by Deputy Ambassador Helen Winterton, this was part of the Bibliotheca Alexandria’s two day series of events to celebrate International Peace Day.
The primary objective of the workshop was to bring together researchers, policy makers and activists engaged with the problem of countering violent extremism in Egypt to establish a shared understanding of the issue, the role of women, and integrating a gender equality perspective. The second aim was to discuss different approaches, evidence of what works and generate pointers for future research on women’s roles in countering violent extremism in Egypt.
The British Embassy also supported a series of workshops organised by Souryana, as part of the wider UK objective to promote stability and reduce conflict. Souryana uses innovative and inclusive ways to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence and increase civil engagement within vulnerable communities. Workshops included music and theatre activities, art therapy and sports sessions.
As well as helping to strengthen the UK-Egypt partnership in countering violent extremism, the workshop fell under the umbrella of Gender September, a British Embassy initiative to raise awareness of what it is doing to support gender equality in Egypt and why. This has been through a month of events and activities including a women-only speed mentoring event, as well as boosting female representation in day to-day embassy work.
Deputy Ambassador to Cairo Helen Winterton said:
Countering violent extremism is a shared agenda between countries, communities, and families. Women and gender equality are central to our understanding of the problem and our attempt to build resilience to it.
Souryana representative Rethaa ElRefaie said:
Souryana is our big family in Egypt. We worked with a lot of donors and they valued our work. Being refugees with a big challenge for us. We are proud of reaching out successfully to our beneficiaries we are also proud of using effective developmental approaches with them.