Developmental Challenges in Upper Egypt: A woman’s perspective

“الست لو خدت حظها في التعليم؛ هتعرف ازاي تشارك، ازاي تطور في المجتمع بتاعها، ازاي تشارك في الحياه الثقافية و السياسية في مجتمعها…. تعرف اللي ليها و اللي عليها”

“If women are empowered with proper education; they’d be able to participate, to develop their communities, and to contribute to the cultural and political life… They will know their rights and their duties!”

Qena Governorate, Upper Egypt
Qena Governorate, Upper Egypt

These are the words of Zeinab Maghraby, whom we’ve had the opportunity to interview at ENID’s annual conference. Zeinab is a simple rural woman from Upper Egypt, specifically from a small town called “Gezeeret El Dom” in Qena governorate. We asked Zeinab to tell us, in her opinion, about the developmental challenges they face in Upper Egypt and how ENID’s initiative helps them overcome some of these challenges.

Empowering Women..

Modest as she seems, Zeinab makes some compelling arguments regarding the challenges that face development in Upper Egypt and how the government approaches their problems. She first talks about women and how they face many problems, especially in rural Egypt. Zeinab argues that women need to be empowered in the work environment as well as the political life. The underlying challenge, in her opinion, is illiteracy. She believes that an educated woman is fit for participation, advisory and change; whether in the scope of her small community or even in politics.

The Youth..

The main challenge facing the rural youth is unemployment, which is also an underlying cause for other complex problems. Whether they work in agriculture or in small start-up businesses, the rural youth lack proper support from the government. Zeinab argues that the government needs to provide the youth with training and job opportunities, in order to prevent them from migrating to urban cities.

Prioritization..

Zeinab argues that the government’s budgetary and developmental agendas are more attentive to the development of urban towns, while neglecting rural areas. She, however, believes that if given a chance, the youth can be more productive and developed in their own towns. She gives an example in agriculture; where her town specializes in producing Sugar Cane, which when repeatedly cultivated weakens the soil and drains its nutrients. She thus suggests that the government should advocate agricultural diversification and encourage industrialization, in order to create more jobs for the youth. She also expresses the need to attend to working women and provide them with job opportunities as well, such as weaving workshops (مشاغل للفتيات ).

The initiative..

Finally, Zeinab talks about the role of the initiative in developing small towns in Qena. Speaking from a woman’s perspective, Zeinab acknowledges the role of the programs and classes that the initiative has established in her town, which allow girls and women to learn and acquire productive skills. The initiative has also renovated the town’s dairy plant; which created many job opportunities for women as well as men, and created a market for local production.

The message..

Zeinab’s message to the government couldn’t be clearer! She wants the government to adopt an inside-out approach. She believes that the simple people of small towns are the country’s most valuable asset yet the most overlooked. The government must thus nurture its people; build their capacity to produce and innovate, then empower them with the right tools and opportunities.

“.. بص إنت البلد محتاجة إيه.. بصو للمجتمع مش خطة و نفذ

Watch interview with Zeinab (Arabic)

Zeinab Maghraby @ENID 1st Annual Conference
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