CAIRO: Contrary to popular belief, women were much more persistent and stronger 30 years ago than they are now, a panel discussion organized by the Netherlands Embassy in Egypt concluded.
In cooperation with Cairo University, the embassy organized a film screening followed by a panel discussion commemorating the UN Human Rights Day as well as the 20th anniversary for the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The event was attended by Hossam Kamel, president of Cairo University, and Netherlands Ambassador Susan Blankhart, and was hosted by Heba Nassar, vice president for community service and environmental development at Cairo University.
The embassy screened a documentary by filmmaker Hala Galal titled “Women’s Chit Chat, which explores women’s rights movements over the past 30 years.
Following the screening, panelists discussed the difference between modern-day women and their counterparts 30 years back.
“We care a lot about [material things] like clothes, the places we live in and our economic status, which is a huge threat facing our society nowadays, Hania Sholkamy, professor at the Social Research Center at the American University in Cairo, said.
Panelists concluded that the change women underwent over the years is mainly a result of educational and economic factors.
“We need to teach our daughters what freedom means . freedom to work hard and [be productive], Ahmed Zayed, former dean of Cairo University’s faculty of arts, said.
Other panelists included Mona Zulfikar, CEO of Shalkany law firm, and Hanina Ajarai, Dutch writer, journalist and filmmaker.
“This seminar is not only to celebrate 30 years but also to rebuild ideas about the importance of women s role in Egypt, Kamel said. The university s president further highlighted the importance of the role of women since Queen Hapshetsut.
According to Galal, the film has been screened in three different countries; Egypt, France and the US. “People react differently at each place, she said, explaining that viewers either mourn the past or use it as a way to learn about Cairo.
The Netherlands Embassy cooperates with other organizations in the fight for human rights.
“All women’s rights are human rights, the ambassador said.