Wednesday, January 30

For the love of the Game...and so much more.

An average person walking in the streets of Cairo can look around and see a parade of people who walk by every day. They come from all over Egypt, of many social and economical classes. The variety of Egyptians walking in the Egyptian street on any given day is astounding. Yet they all have one thing in common. It has been going on for some time now, but so far, not many people have been able to confront the epidemic that has slowly taken over our country... silently infiltrating everyone's life, and changing it for the worse... yet as Egyptians, we go on from day to day oblivious to the danger lurking ahead of us... hiding in plain sight. You will see that this danger affects both men and women, young and old. It affects our economy and our well being. It costs billions of dollars every year to manage problems caused by this silent epidemic. The solution to this problem is in our hands. It is an easy solution, yet it isn't available for everyone... In this problem as well as many others, women always get the short end of the stick!

What silent epidemic am I talking about you ask??? Obesity!! A casual observation of Egypt will show you that more and more people are gaining weight. This is not an Egyptian problem per se... It is a world wide epidemic. Countries all over the world are working hard to reverse this epidemic, yet as Egyptians, resources are limited, and people have bigger concerns to worry about rather than their weight. A lot of people believe this is a vanity issue, and as they get older or get married, they feel that there is no reason to care about this now. They would rather concentrate on their budget, or saving for their children, or the kids schools and exams...etc. In older days, Egyptians believed that gaining weight was a sign of economic abundance and wealth. They believed that a fatter person is better looking than a thin hungry person. It was a symbol of social status. Yet sadly, things are not as simple as they seem. Being overweight is associated with a higher risk of many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, stroke,hypertension, infertility, cancer...etc. In a country where health care and the cost of many medications is subsidized by the government, this is one of the many causes of financial woes that afflict Egypt and its economy...... with millions of people being diagnosed with these diseases at younger and younger ages, the impact on the entire economy is gigantic, and if we are all not careful, it will get worse as time goes by. Besides the cost of health care, and medications, people with these diseases will die younger, or will be crippled for life by one or more of the diseases, and will be a burden to society instead of a contributing factor to economic growth. Although many Egyptians read more and realize the importance of not becoming overweight, the idea that gaining weight is a much coveted status symbol still continues in Egyptian society. If a person loses weight, friends, family , and neighbors, automatically assume he/she is sick or has a health problem. People will start asking questions about his health, and why so much weight is lost, even though it may only be a couple of kilos. When a man proposes to a slender woman, his family will constantly criticize her weight and encourage her to gain more weight, because women are "supposed" to be chubby!!This kind of peer pressure has a huge influence on the prevalence of obesity in the Egyptian community as a whole, and on women in particular. Mothers are also encouraged to "fatten up" their baby so that the baby is "mekalbaz", which is equated to being cute!!WHO data shows that in Egypt more than 25 percent of 4-year-olds are fat. The number of fat cells in the human body can increase during the first year of life. After a person is older, fat cells get bigger or smaller when weight is gained, but the number of cells remains the same. When all mothers overfeed their babies, these babies will have more fat cells than they would have otherwise had. And with that many fat cells in their body, they are more likely to gain weight as adults, and will be more predisposed to obesity than children who were not overfed.

Egyptian school age children on the other hand have a slight advantage over the rest of the population. In sporting clubs all over Cairo and Alexandria, and many other smaller cities, especially in more affluent neighborhoods, mothers spend the summers taking their children to practice, and most kids are encouraged to participate in sports. Now this is a good start that needs to be encouraged, but once kids reach their teens, boys will continue to play sports, and girls are not. With the onset of puberty the frank discrimination against women begins. If a girl is a swimmer she is told that she is getting too old, , and it is no longer acceptable in the community for a girl to wear a swimming suit to practice a sport the way boys are allowed to do. The same with most other sports. Girls are "protected" and discouraged from "displaying" their body by moving, which is encouraged for boys!! Girls are groomed to be future housewives, so most girls will start to have more responsibilities in the house, while the boys are encouraged to participate in sports and their triumphs are celebrated. Most girls will eventually quit sports all together. Very few girls in their late teens actually practice sports, and most go hang out with friends rather than continue a habit that would have been healthy and good for their overall well being. This brings us to the current trend in Egypt. Although obesity is a problem for all Egyptians, at the age of 15, when girls are developing into young women, and social restrictions and frank discrimination starts, the WHO show deviation from the standard model of male and female obesity. Meaning that women suddenly begin putting on much more weight than men...although as children the weight issues were comparable in both males and females.

The Body mass index is a measurement of body weight in relation to height, and is used to assess the percentage of body fat in a person. The optimal BMI of a population is around 21. 25 or more is overweight and predisposed to diseases, and 30 or more is obese... meaning severely overweight! As shown in the previous graphs, at the age of 15, half of Egyptian women are overweight, and around 10% are obese. The weight problem escalates as women get older to reach 90% of women over 45 being overweight, and out of the total female population, more than 67% are obese by the age of 45.. In short, we are turning into a country where only a quarter of the women are not predisposed to massive health risk, and early death and life long diseases!!

In Egypt, the average woman's life expectancy is 73.6 years, based on the data published in the 2007 CIA world fact book. This means that these women will live for at least 30 years while being overweight, and suffering from its consequences on their health, well being, as well as that of their family, and that of the Egyptian community as a whole.

So what has Egypt offered as a whole to these women to help control the problem, and as a society how do we band together to keep our families happy and healthy? Not enough according to the current trends. Men can participate in sports without restrictions, and among adults, young single men are the ones who participate in sports the most. Women's sports are not as important, and rarely if ever publicized or encouraged. Wouldn't it be a fair assessment to say that we need to educate Egyptians about the importance of physical exercise on their well being? Shouldn't we teach them about their body mass index and how to eat healthy to control their weight and cholesterol? Funding for preventive medicine and public health is dedicated towards children and vaccinations.. which is very important, but adult preventive medicine is never a priority. If we want to improve our economy as a whole , and our society, we need to educate adults about their own health. This would cut millions of pounds spent annually on health care.In order for this to be accomplished, we need to educate women first. Women will teach their children, and husbands, who traditionally are more resistant to change , will follow suit. The key to a healthy Egyptian community is having mothers who are educated about the methods of maintaining their family's health and well being, as well as being role models for their children, who will follow in their mothers footsteps. Women need to be encouraged to change their attitude towards physical activity. They need to learn that it is okay to move. It is not a sin to exercise, and whether they dress in hegab or not should not stop you from practicing a sport you love. They also need to learn that becoming a wife and a mother should not stop you from maintaining your health and that of your family.. in fact, it is your duty to stay healthy for your well being and for the well being of your own children..... And of course we go back to our eternal problem... our patriarchal society and the restrictions it imposes on any woman living in that society, and the ignorance of some men when it comes to physical activity of women in general, and women in sports in particular. In short, the key to all of this is Education!

A typical example of the restrictions placed on women when it comes to playing sports in Egypt is soccer...Most, if not all, Egyptian men play soccer. Soccer is the Egyptian all time favorite game. Men play soccer wherever there is an empty space, a ball, and other men. Most Egyptian households are divided into supporters of certain teams...Growing up in Egypt, it was common to be asked by kids in school if you are "ahlawy", or" zamalkawy"... you had to be one of them... there was no 3rd choice.( teams may be different for today's children) When one team wins, its supporters would storm the streets of Cairo celebrating, honking their horns screaming their team's name, holding signs out of car windows... As a child it gives you the feeling the whole world is celebrating this important event. In a nation such as this, you would expect soccer to be played by both girls and boys, and as they get older, men and women would play, and having a men's team as well as a women's team is the norm.... however this is not the case. Until recently, the only team in the public eye was the men's team. Women did not play soccer. If they try to, it would be a joke, and no one would take them seriously... they would be the laughing stock of their community.... That is until recently when some very brave Egyptian women decided to take on the system . It all started with a brave woman called Sahar Elhawary Who took it upon herself to build the first Women's soccer team in Egypt.She started recruiting players in the 90's and took it upon herself to train them and prepare them for the game. It wasn't until the new millennium that the women's soccer team was recognized by Egypt and was known as the Egyptian women's team. They even qualified for the first African women's soccer cup, and snatched the victory, however it was not widely publicized, or celebrated like any of the events involving men's soccer. Since then there have been changes in society, especially among young girls. Girls' soccer teams have popped up everywhere, and women are finally being recognized as soccer players too. However the road is not all smooth sailing, and many attitudes need to change before women's soccer can reach its full potential. Women soccer players were recently interviewed by Aljazeera in a very interesting mini documentary.

As you can see by this documentary, The women were there solely for the sport, and the one that felt that she needed to wear a headscarf, came up with a compromise and wore leggings underneath her shorts, while still maintaining her right to practice an enjoyable activity, and be a part of a national team. Younger Egyptian men had a very negative idea about women and their right to practice sports. While the women's soccer team is practicing in the background in a soccer field, a male player nearby tells the camera: “If my fiancee wanted to play football, I would forbid her. I only respect men playing. It could also distract her from her home. In Egypt we believe the woman's place is in her home.” So he actually feels the need to "forbid" his future wife excercising or participating in a sport, since he believes her sole function in life is caring for him, his kids and his house... her own well being, whether physical or mental, is not part of the equation. Another says of a female player: “She cannot wear a headscarf and play. This is against religion. Football and sports are forbidden for women.” So this young man's idea is that God has forbidden women from participating in sports... The coach , who appears to be in his 30's actually praises the girls saying they have better endurance. On the other hand, the older gentlemen who were interviewed had a more positive outlook... They have probably been young men in the 60's and 70's, before Wahabi influence infiltrated Egypt and changed its identity and culture. Their take on women's soccer is that it is good for girls to play sports to occupy their time, and that since the game is in public and she is wearing decent shorts, then it is a positive thing, and their overall impression is quite encouraging. (You will notice how these middle class men identified decent clothes by logical means, rather than thinking that any clothes that dont cover a woman from head to foot are indecent, so they were okay with wearing shorts while participating in a sport... never once saying that since they are women we should stop them from wearing the international dress code of soccer players.) By comparing what the older men and the younger men have said, we can see what Egypt was at one point of time, and what it is becoming faster than we can imagine. Whatever happened to the open minded Egyptians that were once the norm? Why are our younger generations so oblivious to the danger their new ideas pose to themselves, their society, and their country as a whole? Doesn't it make sense that we would have had so many more female athletes and champions if Egyptian women were free to practice any sport they loved?

Whether the cause of this attitude is ignorance or Wahabi infiltration deep into our society, it needs to be stopped. Egyptian men need to go back to the way they were in the 60's and 70's. They need to respect women enough to give them autonomy over what they choose to do with their time, and no one should feel the need to "force" his wife or daughter not to exercise, because housework is not the reason God created women! Women need to learn more about maintaining their physical activity as they get older, and the dangers that they impose onto themselves by giving in to ideas that require them to leave life and sit at home as servants. I am not saying women should not care for their homes, but rather, women need to have activities besides their homes and the tedious amount of work that is needed for the upkeep of their households. By not having outside activities they are harming themselves, their families, community, and country. One of the best ways to get women to begin participating in sports is encouraging our women's soccer teams. The reason I specifically state soccer is because it is already popular, and people already accept it as a sport, so the work here is half done. If women's soccer becomes as socially acceptable as men's soccer, a large number of girls will learn to play, and participate in a national pastime that is enjoyed by both men and women, young and old. With the active participation of women in soccer, active participation in other sports will eventually become the norm, and the obesity epidemic will eventually come to an end. Of course media coverage is a huge factor in deciding how popular a sport will become, but in order for this to happen, people first have to show enough interest. For all the Egyptians out there, I say support your local girl's soccer team. The girls of today are the women of tomorrow, and their health and well being is the health and well being of our community.


Amre El-Abyad said...

Salam Egyptian feminist chic,

Nothing actually irritates me more than the word"cool". Yet I am going t make an exception for this post, as I can find no word but cool to describe it. In a very positve sense, though. Good job!

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Thanks Amr!! Glad to see that you have stopped by,and that you agree with me :)

raaasa said...

Thanks, EFC, for your timely and thought-provoking piece. I especially liked it as I loved to play soccer at school--no other girls did then.

Loved the video you included, both hopeful and sad.

(yesterday, I wrote a response which disappeared--Blogger was not functioning properly-- when I tried to post. can't recall the way to express what I wanted to say, so I'll comment again soon.)

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear EFC,
very good topic indeed. Being back after a trip to US, I can say the americanization of the world has a part of it. American lifestyle increases weight through a hundred of factors, then US taste , believe it or not, accepts obesity in persons more than the average in the rest of the world. They do have much more fans of big boys and big girls. Maybe I am wrong, it is just an impression. Regards

last of the mohicans said...

Who wouldn't agree with that?!
way to go egyptian chic, bringing up such topic that will really benefit women and the society physically, mentally and in every other way. some thing that is doable, above all it's something we can all agree on. second time in a row..what's up with that?
good job.

Fantasia said...

dear EFC,
what a great post this is. i have been thinking the same thing. why are most egyptian women obese? why do they all suffer from one ailment or another? Very often you find women suffering from back pains, bone and joint disorders, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart diseases. Poor families are made poorer because of the amount of money they pay on medication, which takes up a big portion of the total family budget.
young girls are often flabby, and that's why they usually have a poor self image and low esteem.
they try to hide themselves inside baggy clothes, which only encourage them to eat more and remain inactive.
egyptian families raise their daughters as if they are breading ducks. and yes, egyptian girls are pretty much like ducks. they are inactive, and they show clear signs of fatigue once they perform any activity.
my female colleagues at work were usually sleepy once the clock hits past noon. they just look like a total mess. and that's why their productivity is very low.
even housewives.. they stay indoors most of the days. and during their spare time they do nothing except sitting in front of TV, chatting on the phone, and snacking of course. they don't even read! maybe cause reading consumes a bit of calories.
this is a huge problem.. and i am saying huge. it has got many negative consequences on those individuals, on their society, and on our country as a whole.
there was a time when egypt had the most beautiful women. women were fit, healthy and active. if we all view our mothers' old photos, we'll be amazed at how fit and elegant they looked. but as our society changed and turned backwards, women have been gaining weight ever since.
i was pretty shocked when i learned that Egypt had won the Miss World pageant in 1954! what chances do we have nowadays?
not that i support those pageants or anything.. i actually hate them.. but we do have contestants who represent egypt at miss world and miss universe every year.
beauty is not only about the looks. if you are healthy and fit, you have self-confidence, you are more productive and more successful in life.. and that's the bottom line.

the views that the egyptian guys expressed are typical of what you hear everywhere nowadays.. empty claims that have nothing to support them.
the majority of gyms in egypt allow females to excerise alone.. whether in a seperate or on different days than those for the men. the instructors are also women, which means that girls wearing veils can take them off, excerise and sweat.. just like any other.
girls do hang out as you said, and with prices being on the rise they spend a large sum of money on cafes and cinema tickets. so why don't they gather for a workout instead? why don't they play a sport? there is no excuse whatsoever, i tell you.
thanks feminist chic for this wonderful post. brilliant as always.

egy anatomist said...

EFC Hanem

This is really amazing!

A great researcher we havce here!

You have done a wonderful misxture of medicine, sociology and even politics in a charming style.

I have really benefited from reading this written documentary.

best regards

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Thanks for the comment... I know exactly what you mean. I was one of the few girls in school who actually played soccer with the boys:) My teachers always asked if I had many brothers, and considered my behavior to be boyish, and even complained to my parents!! which is unfair.. since the stereotype is that girls should not like to play is insane the kind of pressure they used to put on young girls so they would conform to the traditional way of how girls are supposed to act! I hope that in the future things would change so girls would be praised for participating in sports rather than told it is boyish behavior!

And I agree with you... the video gives us some hope that things will eventually change for the better. Thanks for your comment raaasa, and I hope to read your other comment :)

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Dr. Harfoush,
glad to see you like my post. You are right in your assessment of the USA. The kind of obesity seen there is amazing. You get used to it after being there for a while, but when you first go there, you will see sizes that you never thought were possible. I feel that this is somehow a response to the media glorifying pencil thin women that are just not a realistic representation of normal human beings... A lot of the actresses and models have eating disorders, and every now and then you will hear about a young model who dies as a result of anorexia... I guess this is the other side of the coin.. but what it does is make the beauty ideal unrealistic, so some women feel that no matter what they do they will never be that thin, and just go on and eat as they please... and with the lifestyle and the food portions in restaurants...etc. it is alarming how much weight some people can gain. You dont see many people like that in Egypt, but if we are not careful, and with the spread of fast food restaurants, and lack of physical activity i wouldnt be surprised if people like that would start popping up all over the country. I hope that day would never come! The thing about the USA though is that you also see so many fit women as well... who excercise and watch their weight, and are so incredibly physically fit.. I am hoping that eventaually we will see women like that in Egypt.

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

dude.. I am amazed! we agree again :) Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment. It is so nice to see people agreeing with my post. Gives me a lot of hope for our future!! Makes me think that we realy can make a difference!

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Dear Fanta,

You are right.. Productivity realy decreases with all the health problems, and the extra weight their muscles and joints have to bear!! And thank you for the info about Egypt winning the miss world pageant.. This is new information to me, I never knew that before.. But many times I have looked at pictures of parents and grandparents when they were younger, and I realy did think that they were all thinner and healthier than the women we see nowadays!! I have also noticed the same things in old movies. With the way beauty pageants are conducted nowadays, they choose their friends and relatives to win (kollo belwasta), and most women won't even fit into the criteria required, so there isnt much of a choice. I doubt that Egypt will ever win anything. Which is sad... even though I am totally against the concept of Beauty pageants. However Healthy women will be more productive and successful as you said.

Thanks fanta for your wonderful comment :)

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Egy Anatomist,

As always, your comment is greatly appretiated. I am glad to see that you like my post, and that you found it educational. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

اجندا حمرا said...

My dearest Fantasia

a very important issue u r talking about here

i was thinking about the same issue while i was watching people on the streets on my way to work everyday

unfortunately fantasia there r some people who enjoys eating so what we r gonna say about this?some others have bad eating habits ,i think what helped in spreading this epidemic in egypt the increasing number of fast food chains

people always on the run ,so it is the most easiest way for them ,to grap a sandwich and eat it

we should have a healthy food schedule and people have to be educated that it is not only about their appearance but their health which is mostly affected when they r obese

i read about an article regarding this issue in el washwasha journal ,they were asking the girls whether or not they r gonna accept getting married to a man with kersh

u should have read it fantasia and see what they said
the majority didnt mind that at all and they think it is a cool thing
i dont know how cool is that

people should be encouraged to play sports like u said but unfortunately they think it is not something very important

a very impressive issue fantasia makes the one talk and talk

thank u my dear

raaasa said...

Dear EFC,

I think that physical activity must also be built into a person's day, in addition to sports and such activities.
The simplest exercise is walking. However, in Egypt, between the poor state of the streets and sidewalks and the harassment a women endures, walking is in many cases not an appealing option. Then, of course, there are social attitudes, as well, about a woman going out for no other reasons than a good walk.

raaasa said...

Dear EFC,

I think that physical activity must also be built into a person's day, in addition to sports and such activities.
The simplest exercise is walking. However, in Egypt, between the poor state of the streets and sidewalks and the harassment a women endures, walking is in many cases not an appealing option. Then, of course, there are social attitudes, as well, about a woman going out for no other reasons than a good walk.

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Agenda 7amra,

Thank you for your valuable commment. I would just like to tell you that fanta has been kind enough to let me contribute to her blog. This is actually my second post here, and I have been enjoying posting here very much.

You know, I agree with what you said about people not wanting to stop eating, so they will never lose weight. However I believe there is a way around this... When people snack they need to snack on low calorie foods rather than carbohydrates and other high calorie snacks... the key is not to diet and stop eating, because no matter how long you diet, one day you will stop and go back to your usual way of eating and regain all the weight... some people actually over eat the second they get off of a diet ( i know this because i am one of these people.. dieting makes me eat like crazy once the diet is stopped) so the best way to lose the weight is to change how you eat and how you live... and know that this is not a short term diet, but a life long change... for example only eat 3 meals.... only 1/3 of the meal should be carbs... the other 1/3 protien, and the last2/3 vegetables... and count calories. and when you snack.. have a low calorie snack, like an apple or an orange... and dont deprive yourself of dessert, but instead of a large piece of cake, take a small piece. instead of 2 scoops of ice cream have only one...etc. and limit yourself to 1 dessert a day... and dont eat at night no matter how hungry you feel, and dont eat fats... no matter what, nothing with a lot of cholesterol. dont fry food, but grill it instead. dont eat meat or shrimp more than once a week, they are full of cholesterol. eat plenty of fish,but only the small kinds.. large fish have mercury which causes cancer, and minimize fish if you are pregnant. dont eat the skin on chicken, only use corn oil, but better is canola oil and extra virgin olive oil.. and drink lots of water, at least 6-8 cups a day. and excercise at least 30 minutes a day. if you go to a sporting club, then go walk there, if not, do aerobics at home... buy a tape from a store and if nothing is available, download it off of the internet, or get it from a book... there are so many options out there. add to all of that, have annual screenings and physical exams at your doctors office. make sure you dont have high blood pressure, diabetes, or other diseases that require life long treatment. if you do, make sure to follow up annually and always take your medicine no matter what. and no matter how young you are, measure your cholesterol... people as young as 18 or 19 can have high cholesterol... and take the meds necessary every day for the rest of your life. prople who die of heart attacks in their 40's are the ones who have had high cholesterol for years and never bothered to measure it when they were in their 20's, if hey had treated their cholesterol, they would not have been crippled by the heart attack , or worse they would not have died.

I am sure that not everyone knows all of this information. so the key is education... teach this to people and a lot of them will be able to follow these guidelines to some extent... it is okay if occasionally they dont, but just by doing all of that, they will be healthier and more fit than before, without feeling deprived because of dieting. also with enough pressure, fast food restaurants can provide us with healthier alternatives, and calorie counts like they are forced to do in other countries... that way people would know exactly what they are putting into their bodies before they eat it.

Regarding the girls who feel that it is okay for a guy to have a protruding belly... This is a result of our parents brainwashing our generation.... we are constantly told, elragel mesh beshaklo... even when a lot of girls feel that fit better looking men are more attractive than fat ones,we hear this so many times, that they eventually learn to over look it as a vanity issue that does not affect life.. on the other hand if guys felt that looking fat will decrease their chances of meeting the right woman... they would probably care for themselves more.

you know? i am sure one day people will be much more health conscious than they are now... it will take some time though and it just needs to begin , and eventually everyone will follow.

thanks agenda for your comment. i hope to read more of your opinions in the future:)

raaasa said...

Forgive me, EFC and Fanta, for plunking this link here because it has little or nothing to do with health, but I thought it would get lost in an older thread. I thought this article would be of interest--possibly inspiration for a future post. The themes are women's rights, home-grown vs. international standards, Saudi Arabia and women, male guardianship, Islamic law, foreign interference and so on. Anyway, interesting in many respects.

raaasa said...

Alright, since you may already hate me for not staying with the topic of the post, I will comment with another link from a related article to the link I previously posted--related in my head and hopefully you will see the connection too. This article, by one of my favourite journalists, is about the proposed adoption of Sharia for Muslims in Britain.

Perhaps it might be useful for an upcoming topic:

raaasa said...

my profuse apologies again. (I must admit that I really do find it quite a challenge to think about diet and exercise in February. is it just me?)

ok, it seems the universe is conspiring here (or I seem to have no self-control whatsoever, which could also be true). Fanta, have you considered the possibility of having a place on your site for such off-topic (but blog related) ramblings and postings of links to current media items which may be of interest to others? Of course, I don't know whether such a thing is possible or something that you would want.

And since I am rambling about that already:), perhaps you might also consider a place to discuss or post relevant issues and happenings in Cairo and Alex on themes of interest. (I realize there are advantages and disadvantages to this idea, but something to consider perhaps.)

On this note, I came across a conference of interest coming up soon. wish I could be there:


Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies
American University in Cairo

Gender and Region Workshop February 14-15, 2008 (Blue Room, Greek


Project Description:

...the history of the [African] continent, like the continent
itself, had been partitioned by the scholars: everyone carving their
field, not in terms of the populations they were studying, but in
terms of their interests, debates and controversies. [Jacques
Depelchin, Silences in African History: Between the Syndromes of
Discovery and Abolition, 2005].

This two-year project seeks to bring together a group of scholars and
researchers to critically and comparatively engage geographical
regions and their gender agendas on issues such as rights, culture,
reproduction, violence and labor. Working towards a deeper
understanding of gate-keeping concepts and their operationalization in
specific regional contexts, the project will address questions such
as how certain cultural categories in particular geographical regions
are systemically picked up by researchers and governments for policy
and regional research agendas. By treating regions in relationship to
each other, this project hopes to enrich our understanding of gender
issues across the global south with a particular focus on bringing
some of the insights into the further development of gender and
women's research in the Middle East/North Africa field. The project
also seeks to contribute to similar developments in the theorizing and
practice of gender and women's studies in the other geographic regions
explored. The Gender and Region project is made possible due to the
generous support of the Ford Foundation (Cairo).

Thursday February 14
9:30 Coffee

10:00 Introduction and Project Description

Panel I: Encountering the Production of Difference: Gender, Women,

Contemporary Dilemmas of Colombian Feminism around the Issue of
Mara Vieveros, Department of Anthropology, Universidad Nacional de
Colombia (Colombia)

Gender Studies of China and of the Gulf: A Study in Contrasts
Jacequeline Armijo, Department of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Zayed University (United Arab Emirates)

Women's Empowerment and Disempowerment in Egyptian Discourses
Hania Sholkamy, Social Research Center, American University in Cairo

12:30-1:30 Lunch

Panel II: Localizing Space, Labor and Gender

African Women in the City? Notes/Images from Maputo (1960s to 80s)
Patricia Hayes, Department of History, University of Western Cape
(South Africa)

Informal Sector. Women Leadership among Street Vendors in Mexico City
Sandra Alarcón, Department of Anthroplogy, Universidad Iberoamericana

Tropes of Empowerment: Parda, Visibility and Women in the Public
Sphere in Bangladesh
Dina Siddiqi, Consultant, Gender and Human Rights

3:30-4:00 Coffee

4:00- 6:00
Panel III: Violence of Development and the Development of Violence

Gender, Culture and Development in West Africa
Charity Angya, Centre for Gender Studies, Benue State University

Women and Armed Violences. War Strategies against Women in Non War
Contexts: Rio de Janeiro and San Salvador
Tatiana Moura & Silvia Roque, Peace Studies Group, University of
Coimbra (Portugal)

Friday, February 15

Panel IV: Limits of the Liberal Toolkit

Beyond Petition and Redress; Mixed Legality and Womens Right to
Consent to Marriage in Pakistan
Sadaf Aziz, Department of Law, Lahore University of Management
Sciences (Pakistan)

Palestinian Women's Organizations: Global Cooption and Local
Eileen Kuttab, Institute of Women's Studies, Birzeit University (West

Childish Imaginings: the Displacement of Conflict in the International
Legal Order
Tanya Monforte, International Human Rights Program, Department of Law,
University in Cairo

Panel V: Mapping Gender: Temporal and Regional Gestures

Gender, History and Feminist Pedagogy: Some Questions from South Asia
G. Arunima, Women's Studies Programme, Jawaharlal Nehru University

The Politics of the Future
Martina Rieker, IGWS, American University in Cairo

1:00-2:00 Lunch

Roundtable I: Funding and the New Gender Industry in the Global South

Roundtable II: Gender and Region Research Trajectories

mido said...

nice post indeed i like it
i think life totally changed now in egypt after the revolution i think women also will have more rights than before

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde