New Age Islam News Bureau
13 June 2022
• Venezuela’s First Lady Meets Iranian Women’s Social
• ‘We Exist but It Is Not A Life’: Afghan Women Face
Bleak Prospects Under Taliban
• Sisters in Islam Co-Founder Zainah Anwar: Islamic
Feminism Still Has A Ways to Go In Malaysia
• Kerala Women Activist Aysha Renna Lathi-Charged For
Protesting UP Demolition
• World Trade Organisation Members Urged To Address
Needs of Women Entrepreneurs
• Pakistan leg-spinner Tuba Hassan crowned ICC Women's
Player of the Month for May
• Female-Only Transport Trips For Egypt’s Women Bring
Change Amidst Inequality
Compiled by New
Age Islam News Bureau
Canadian Muslim Women Practice the Art of
HealingThrough Theatre amidst Racialised Attacks
Asha Yassin is a member of
Sisters’ Dialogue, a group founded in response to the rise in attacks against
visibly Muslim women.
Jun 12, 2022
Chelsey Sapp, a 33-year-old Cree Muslim woman, watched
the performers on her screen intently as tears filled her eyes. An actress
dressed in black grabbed colourful scarves and put them in a bag one by one,
then lugged it over her shoulder as Sapp looked on.
“She said something like, ‘It’s so heavy for me,’”
Sapp recalls, recognizing the symbolism of the weight she carries herself from
her hardships – intergenerational trauma as an Indigenous survivor and the
discrimination she faces as a Muslim woman.
Sapp wasn’t just experiencing catharsis through
watching another character. She was experiencing her own life story played out
(on Zoom) by local theatre company Third Space Playback Theatre Edmonton.
Performing their brand of playback, a participatory form of improvisational
theatre, the actors “played back” the stories audience members shared with
“It was just amazing,” Sapp says about the special
performance she calls The Life of Chelsey. “When they played [my story] back to
me, I looked at myself and I’m like, ‘Wow. That’s one courageous, resilient
woman right there.’”
When the actors completed Sapp’s playback, there were
few dry eyes in the virtual space. The March 2022 performance was the first
collaboration between local grassroots organization Sisters’ Dialogue and the
theatre. The groups organized the exclusive Playback Theatre performance just
for Muslim women, mostly from the Edmonton area, to facilitate healing from the
gendered Islamophobia and racism they’d experienced in the city and to foster
sisterhood through art.
Over the past two years, Edmonton and its surrounding
area have seen a string of reported physical and verbal attacks against
racialised Muslim women. Recent data from Statistics Canada showed that while
overall crime was down 10 per cent in 2020, reported hate crimes were up 37 per
cent across the country. That number doesn’t include the numerous hate crimes
that go unreported or incidents that don’t fit the legal bill of a hate crime.
“Month after month, there is another attack and most
of the victims are Black Muslim sisters,” explains Wati Rahmat, a Malay Muslim
woman living in Edmonton. “It’s created a lot of fear and anxiety amongst
Rahmat co-founded Sisters’ Dialogue in 2021 in
reaction to the attacks. While other community organizations and different
levels of government responded to the attacks with programs such as
self-defence classes for Muslim women, Rahmat says she noticed that victims
were often left out of the responses.
“Every time there’s an attack, there’s a lot of media
attention and outrage from the community but then it’ll just dissipate,” she
says. “But no one’s really saying ‘Hey, we’re here for you. We are your
sisters, and we care for you.’”
Rahmat recalls after the first series of attacks from
December 2020 into early 2021, “Nobody was talking about mental health. Nobody
was talking about victim support.” Rahmat’s organization aimed to fill that
gap, and with its Third Space collaboration, give Muslim women the community
support they desperately needed.
Third Space’s artistic director and art therapist,
Lucy Lu, explains that Playback Theatre was developed in 1975 in New York by
Jonathan Fox, a student of improv and oral traditional storytelling, and Jo
Salas, a musician and activist, along with other members of the original
company. Over the next 15 years, the theatre was brought to audiences in Japan,
Switzerland, Australia and many other countries where new companies began to
emerge. In 1993, The School of Playback Theatre was established in New York,
later becoming the Centre for Playback Theatre. According to the International
Playback Theatre Network, the art form is practiced in over 70 countries and
employed in a wide variety of contexts from sparking social dialogue to
team-building and more.
In a playback theatre performance, the actors on stage
engage with the audience, inviting them to tell their stories. At this event,
Sapp shared her life story in the intimate company of fellow Muslim women and
only female performers from Third Space. Sapp recalled overcoming her
tumultuous childhood, abuse, and alcohol addiction, and shared her dream of
publishing a book one day – an autobiographical telling of her resilience.
Once the story is shared, the actors “play it back,”
repeating the storytellers’ dialogue, turning bits and pieces of the story into
an interpretative dance, or using props to replay significant moments, often
with live musical accompaniment. Despite the actors never having heard the
stories before they take the stage, they produce complete performances that
often evoke strong emotions from the audience.
“For women to just express themselves and see their
feelings being acted out, it’s very cathartic,” says Rahmat. “It’s very visceral.”
For Sapp, seeing her life played out on screen helped
her see just how much she had really gone through – something she realized she
rarely gave herself credit for.
Rahmat and Lu aim to continue their collaborations,
aspiring to eventually make a session open to non-Muslims to watch.
Building on the foundation of playback, Third Space
caters its performance to the community it is invited into with an intentional
attempt at decolonizing the practice. Lu says that her company attempts a
culturally sensitive approach that values a community’s experiences without
retraumatizing anyone. After each storyteller speaks, Lu asks them, “Would you
like to hear your story played back?”
“Because people have been so violated from intrusion
in their space, the [ask for] permission is to signal for all of us that you
don’t have to do anything you don’t want to,” Lu explains.
For another participant, Asha Yassin, seeing her story
played back made her realize she wasn’t alone. Yassin, a counselling psychology
student and Sisters’ Dialogue member, remembers feeling apprehensive about
playback at first, but left feeling a sense of Muslim sisterhood.
“My intersecting identities of being a Black, visibly
Muslim woman make me such a vulnerable target,” Yassin shares. In her story,
the hijab-wearing mother said she feels unsafe outside the walls of her home.
Yassin recounted having a discussion with her classmates about their
self-awareness levels. “A lot of them would say maybe a two, maybe a one [out
of 10], and I was just so surprised by that,” she says. “That’s a privilege.”
When telling her story to the playback group, Yassin shared that her
self-awareness level is always at a “10 out of 10″ and “it never drops.” Yassin
says she’s been followed in stores and on the street multiple times, been
verbally assaulted and even spat on in hateful incidents.
In her playback, the actors emphasized Yassin’s worry
and desire for comfort and protection outside her home. She watched as
performers repeated her words like “self-awareness” and acted out the walls
that represented her safe haven from the racism and Islamophobia she encounters
on a regular basis.
After watching her playback performance, some of the
words and movements she had experienced through her screen stayed with her long
after the metaphorical curtain had dropped. Yassin says she felt like she could
now take a step toward finding ways to navigate society in a safer manner after
receiving private messages from other participants who related to her story.
Yassin shared that playback was triggering, but not in
a negative way.
“Sometimes you’re triggered and you’re afraid --
you’re worried it brings back emotions,” Yassin says. “But in this particular
situation, I felt like this is a door that I could finally open to start my
journey to healing.”
Source: The Globe And Mail
Venezuela’s First Lady Meets Iranian Women’s Social
Photo: Mehr News Agency
Jun 13, 2022
During the meeting, Cilia Flores said that
“resistance” is a common topic of talk between Venezuelan and Iranian women.
While expressing her happiness at being in Iran and
getting to know about the capabilities of Iranian women, Celia Flores hailed
the Venezuelan people's resistance against the US unilateral sanctions and
pressure, terming “resistance” the only way to stand up and progress.
Referring to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s remarks and his emphasis that the cost of
resistance is less than compromise and succumb, Khazali praised the standing of
the Venezuelan people, especially the women there.
Pointing to the resistance of Iranian women in various
periods of military-political-economic wars, she highlighted the role of women
in various kinds of wars so pivotal.
The two sides stressed the continuation of
negotiations and the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the
operational actions between the two sides.
The Venezuelan president and his high-ranking
accompanying delegation arrived in Tehran on Friday afternoon for a two-day
visit at the official invitation of his Iranian counterpart to hold meetings
with high-ranking Iranian officials.
Maduro met with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raeisi
and Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Raeisi and Maduro signed a 20-year partnership
agreement aimed at bolstering cooperation in various fields between the two
Source: Mehr News
exist but it is not a life’: Afghan women face bleak prospects under Taliban
in a classroom in district 17 on the north-western outskirts of Kabul, four
young women from a group dedicated to helping children displaced by war pulled
out tissues from a box and silently wiped away tears.
conversation had turned to the youngest of the women’s prospects in light of
the Taliban’s return to power in August last year.
19-year-old explained how she had been stopped at the door of the university
where she was studying engineering and told she must wear a burqa to enter.
had never been asked to do it before,” she said. “They have been to my brothers
and father and told them I must comply. I am being banned from the field trips
that the boys go on. I am losing hope.”
eyes welling with tears, she said she was resigned to wearing the burqa in
order to complete her education.
testimony prompted the other women to open up. One admitted to having suicidal
thoughts. Another said: “We exist, but it is not a life.” Then the fourth stood
up and said: “Everyone knows there is active fighting in Ukraine, but here
people are dying, especially women. Should we have some hope or not?”
woman said she had gone three months without being paid her $100 a month salary,
and that her husband was sick. “Two or three generations [of Afghan women] have
suffered,” she said. “Will another generation suffer? Should we have hope or is
it just hopeless?”
to the women was David Lammy, the British shadow foreign secretary, who visited
Kabul last week. “What I have heard from you today is tremendous strength and
courage,” Lammy said. “I have been lucky to have been to many places in the
world and talked to many people, but this meeting – and I mean this from the bottom
of my heart – will stay with me for a very long time.”
few miles away, in district 13, hundreds of men queued under the baking sun for
their monthly food handout at a UN World Food Programme distribution centre.
Next to them was another queue of men, each pushing a wheelbarrow and hoping to
earn some money helping to transport the food to homes or a taxi.
the distribution centre, 100 or so women, many of them widows, waited for their
turn. In total about 8,000 families would receive food and cooking oil over the
course of the day. More stories of desperation poured out.
36, explained she had trained as a midwife and wanted to work in rural areas,
but was unable to because the Taliban had imposed mahram, the requirement
placed on women to be escorted by a male in public. Zenab said this was not
possible for her, and that she would be beaten if she disobeyed the rules.
Trained to meet a desperately required need, she instead spent her days sitting
at home. Asked what her greatest ambition was, she said to build a hospital.
Her pain was tangible.
a 40-year-old widow living in a house with three other families, said she was
so desperate for money that she had considered selling her kidneys on the black
prices go up, and the Taliban have stopped my pension,” she said. “I do not
know how else to give my children what they need”.
dire food crisis is complex. At one level, Kabul’s dusty markets look full with
potatoes, tomatoes, ubiquitous watermelons and mangoes. Moreover, the Taliban’s
return to power means the UN can reach areas of the country that were formerly
out of bounds, ironically because they were Taliban strongholds.
the surface impression is deceptive, said Hsiao-Wei Lee, the WFP’s deputy
director in Afghanistan. The collapse in the economy means few people have
jobs, and the poor simply cannot afford what is on display in the markets.
Three-quarters of Afghan income is spent on food and 82% are in debt. “It’s is
about maxing out the calories and so tomatoes and potatoes are not right.
Traders say they are having to throw away more food,” Lee said.
stepped up late last autumn so we could avoid the worst of the predicted winter
crisis, and we are prepositioning food for next winter, but lack of funds means
we are now having to scale back.” Only $1.2m (£960,000) of the $4.2m sought by
the UN appeal for this year was offered. There have been five droughts in three
years, and it normally takes three years for an area to recover from such an
usual in Afghanistan, it is women who are bearing the brunt. “In traditional
areas, women eat last after the men and boys, but now they simply do not eat
because there is not enough for the last round of eaters,” said Billie
Alemayehu from the UN humanitarian organisation the OCHA.
says that when baby boys are born, families pause having children because the
boy is considered an asset to the household and needs breast-feeding. But this
is not the case with girls. “In the south of the country, 90% of those
presenting for malnutrition are young girls,” she said. “It is shocking.”
the problem, many of the health clinics trying to help underfed children have
lost their World Bank funding.
the problem is not the result of one under-funded UN appeal. Rather, the entire
economy has been eviscerated since the Taliban takeover by the withdrawal of
overseas aid, which provided 78% of the government budget, and by the
imposition of sanctions and the freezing of Afghan central bank assets. As Isis
Sunwoo, the OCHA head of strategy and coordination in Afghanistan, put it: “A
humanitarian system … cannot uphold an entire state.”
some eyes, the west is pursuing a policy that equates to threatening to starve
innocent Afghans in the unrealistic belief that it will somehow get leverage
over the Taliban. Others say it is impossible to meet the country’s needs
without legitimising a government that has effectively tried to erase women
from public life.
unsustainable compromise exists. Sanctions on the Taliban leadership remain in
force, but broadly humanitarian – as opposed to development – aid is permitted.
The assets of the Afghan central bank, of which £7bn is controlled by the US,
has been frozen, and $3.5bn of this has been confiscated in a populist move by
Joe Biden to provide compensation to the victims of 9/11.
the meantime, from Kabul to Herat, Afghanistan is turning into a bankrupt
is a certain irreversibility about this contraction of demand,” one World Bank
official warned. “Once these businesses go bust, you are not going to revive
them again. This collective bankruptcy is a big problem, and it is appearing on
the banks’ balance sheets. Between 65% to 85% of micro credit loans are
non-performing. Everyone is accumulating debt, but do not have a flow of income
to pay it off.”
signs are everywhere. Construction, once the motor of the private economy, is
moribund. On the outskirts of Kabul there are giant parks of disused JCVs and
US Treasury has tried to ease banks’ fears of falling foul of sanctions by
issuing licences permitting banks to finance humanitarian as opposed to
development aid. But that leaves grey areas. In what category does women’s
capacity building and health projects fall? As the World Bank official put it:
“We have a problem of over-compliance. A western bank makes little money out of
a transfer to and from an Afghan correspondent bank, yet if it is seen to be
doing something related to the Taliban, it could face a massive fine, so the
risk reward does not stack up.”
circumvent the sanctions, the UN, at great expense, is flying in $100,000-worth
of dollar bills in physical cash. “That is helping and hindering,” the official
said. “It is helping because it keeps the humanitarian process afloat, but it
is hindering because it is dollarising the economy and still leaving it very
difficult for legitimate enterprises to trade, except in cash.”
Bank officials visiting Kabul last week were trying to construct a complex
humanitarian exchange system to inject money into the economy. But it was
proving difficult to find a compromise that the central bank and Citibank, the
main western bank, would both accept.
the absence of any diplomatic representation from the west, it has been left to
the World Bank, the UN and the accumulated sensitive knowledge of the NGOs on
the ground such as the International Rescue Committee to try to persuade the
Taliban not to continue down the path of exclusionary politics.
the UN and many NGOs would probably argue that heavy threats about isolating
the Taliban economically unless it becomes more inclusive are
counter-productive, but with the Taliban divided, opinions differ on the best
including in the UK Foreign Office, believe that other Islamic voices could
persuade the Taliban that the Koran provides no justification for the
subjugation of women. There is talk of a conference of religious elders inside
Afghanistan to discuss the issue.
say the discrimination does not stem from a misreading of Islam but instead a
particular southern Pashtun culture largely emanating from Kandahar. The
Taliban have recently defended their policy by saying it is in line not just
with Islam but custom.
warned that an already dire situation could yet get worse. “I think we have to
get past this binary argument of whether you recognise the Taliban or not and
get into the politics of engagement,” he said. “It is only by engagement that
you get into the complexity of the Taliban, the differences of opinion both
within and across the country, between ethnicities, ages groups and provinces.”
also urged the UK to return to Kabul, saying: “If we are not here, we are not
IRC has a big presence in Afghanistan, with more staff than all the UN agencies
put together. Its director, Vicki Aken, said: “My first and biggest fight with
the Taliban has been the protection of our female staff presence, because
without women in our organisation, you can’t reach women in need.”
IRC makes a point of going to meetings with the Taliban with female officials.
It is at the least trying to hold to its principles, while fulfilling the task
of providing aid.
Aken admitted: “It has been death by a thousand cuts as decree after decree
removes women from the public space. A recent decree said women and children
cannot be mentioned in health education materials. About 70% of women in
Afghanistan are illiterate. How are you going to show them how to breastfeed?
Are you going to have a picture of a man with a goat suckling it?”
in Islam Co-Founder Zainah Anwar: Islamic Feminism Still Has A Ways to Go In
Shahrin Aizat Noorshahrizam
LUMPUR, June 12 — Sisters In Islam (SIS) co-founder Zainah Anwar said that
Islamic feminism in Malaysia needs more public awareness to grow and build
public pressure before it can start making an impact on national policy.
said that it was unwise to expect the government to be wholly responsibility for
uplifting Muslim women’s rights, while stressing the importance of forging
alliances with other women’s rights groups.
challenge is, for us, how do we make it politically costly for those who have
the authority to continue to ignore our demands?
why the concentration must be on the emphasis of knowledge, of building
knowledge, of building voices, on opening up a public space for debate,” she
said during a SIS event for the launch of Ziba Mir-Hosseini’s book Journeys
Toward Gender Equality in Islam at Temu House here on June 7.
to comment on the importance of alliances, Zainah said that organisations are
key to building a strong foundation for a resilient reform movement.
why you can’t do this alone and you have to have an organisation that’s going
to give you support every time you are attacked, and you have to build
alliances so that they can stand with you when you are attacked,” she added.
Ziba said the means to an end is just as crucial, which is outlined in her
means to achieving our goal is as important as the goal itself,” she said.
her book, Ziba examines gender equality, as inherent to contemporary
conceptions of justice, and presents a challenge to established, patriarchal
interpretations of Sharia.
explores how egalitarian gender laws might be constructed from within the
Islamic legal framework through thought-provoking discussions with six
influential Muslim intellectuals: Abdullahi An-Naim, amina wadud, Asma
Lamrabet, Khaled Abou El Fad, Mohsen Kadivar and Sedigheh Vasmaghi.
Women Activist Aysha Renna Lathi-Charged For Protesting UP Demolition
Student leader and Fraternity Movement national secretary Aysha Renna suffered
injuries during lath charge in Kerala’s Malappuram.
reported by Maktoob Media, Renna was leading a national highway blockade
protest against the demolition of Muslim activist Afreen Fatima’s house in UP.
further stated that she was humiliated by a police officer while she was in
is worth noting that Renna was an active opponent to the Citizenship Amendment
Act (CAA) which made headlines in 2019. Renna was one among the many protestors
speaking out against the implementation of CAA-NRC.
Fatima is the daughter of activist Javed Mohammad, who is currently the prime
accused in the violence which broke out in Prayagraj following protests against
BJP spokespersons’ Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal’s objectionable comments
against Prophet Muhammad.
on Sunday, bulldozers were moved to the residence of activist Javed Mohammad,
a.k.a. Javed Pump, who the Uttar Pradesh police have identified as the main
conspirator behind the violence that erupted in the city on June 10.
a video, his other daughter, Afreen Fatima, claims that the Prayagraj police
detained her father without a warrant or official letter.
Trade Organisation members urged to address needs of women entrepreneurs
Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
said that the organisation's members must step up work to ensure that trade and
trade rules better serve women amid disruptions posed by multiple crises.
made these remarks at the WTO-International Trade Centre (ITC) joint event
titled “Unlocking Trade for Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development”
held on 12 June, the first day of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).
event spotlighted perspectives from entrepreneurs and enabling organisations to
effectively increase women’s participation in international trade.
need to deepen and diversify supply networks and bring more countries and
communities from the economic margins to the mainstream. In this process, which
I think of as re-globalisation, women have to be at the centre,” Okonjo-Iweala
said in her opening remarks at the event.
trade for women’s empowerment and sustainable development is not just the right
thing to do. It’s an economic issue. It’s a social issue. It is the key issue,”
she said, noting potential increases in global output, wages and employment
when the gender divide is addressed.
strong and effective WTO is critical for these women, which is one more reason
why delivering results at MC12 this week is so important,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
“We want to make sure that people know that the WTO is about people. It’s not
only about rules - it’s about rules that help people."
leg-spinner Tuba Hassan crowned ICC Women's Player of the Month for May
Jun 13 (IANS): Pakistan's young leg-spinner Tuba Hassan on Monday was named the
ICC Women's Player of the Month after enjoying significant success with the
ball during her debut T20I series against Sri Lanka in Karachi.
21-year-old was instrumental in restricting scores set by opponents Sri Lanka
and was eventually adjudged as the Player of the Series, taking five wickets at
an average of 8.8 and an economy rate of 3.66.
highlight of the month for Tuba was during her first international match, in
which she grabbed 3/8 to limit Sri Lanka to 106, setting the platform for a
six-wicket win and was awarded 'Player of the Match'. She struck with just her
second ball in international cricket to dismiss Anushka Sanjeewani and
subsequently took out Harshitha Madavi and Kavisha Dilhari.
her next two matches, Tuba picked a wicket each but was miserly in conceding
runs. In securing this month's award, Tuba overcame fellow nominees in
compatriot, Pakistan skipper Bismah Maroof, and Jersey's Trinity Smith. Tuba is
the first female player from Pakistan to win the ICC Women's Player of the
has shown a lot of confidence and skill to make an impact for Pakistan in her
debut series. She has been working hard for some time and it is really
heartwarming to see her celebrating success in her first series for
Pakistan," said Sana Mir, former Pakistan captain and member of the voting
who was a reserve player during ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in New Zealand
this year, will be travelling with the Pakistan side to take part in a T20I
tri-series featuring hosts Ireland and World Cup champions Australia before
participating in the Women's T20 Cricket event of the Commonwealth Games in
transport trips for Egypt’s women bring change amidst inequality
Shima Fikry’s husband died in July 2018, the then 37-year-old grieving widow
suddenly became the key breadwinner for her three children in her rural
hometown of Zagazig, Sharkia governorate, some 82 kilometers to the northeast
of Egypt’s capital, Cairo.
government employee who had heavily relied on her late husband to support their
family, she scurried to find another source of income that enables her to
single-handedly make ends meet.
husband’s pension wasn’t enough, and I needed to find an extra source of income
for my family,” said Fikry, the founder of Shemo for Sharkeya Ladies Rides. “I
had to find a solution using what was available for me.”
little left behind by her late husband but a car, she decided to provide a
service that is uncommon in Sharkia and beyond: a women’s-only car-hailing
service. By early 2021, she had obtained her driving license and was
independently running a business of driving around women, relying on social
media to promote her services, and on a conservative culture that is
overly-protective of its women amidst widespread sexual harassment to make her
to UN reports, around 86.5% of Egyptian women don’t feel safe in public
transportation, with sexual harassment being a widespread threat facing women
in the Egyptian community. While Egypt is ranked 126 out of 156 in the overall
2021 Global Gender Gap Index and 146 in the economic participation and
opportunity, rural areas in the Arab world’s most populous country impose even
more constraints on women’s recreational, financial and social opportunities
due to their reserved cultures and rigidly-ingrained gender roles that largely
favor men over women.
such, Fikry found such limitations on women an opportunity to provide a
much-needed service which quickly grew from carpooling to organizing day trips
wanted to do something sustainable and safe for me. Besides, the women liked
the idea because there would be nothing to annoy or harass them during our
rides,” she told Al Arabiya.
Marwa Ghareeb, 37, Shemo for Sharkia Ladies has been the perfect solution to
inch out into a world beyond family.
unsafe to travel alone in public transportation with strangers. I would be
apprehensive, and my family would be contacting me now and then to make sure
that I was okay,” said the Sharkia resident, whose late father allowed her to
travel in the family's company only. This has limited her social network as
well as affected her emotional well-being and, having quit her job to tend to
her ailing parents, her isolation has multiplied.
father was very strict. He didn’t allow any traveling unless it was with the
family. Therefore, my life has become constrained after graduating from
college,” said the holder of a university degree in commerce.
therefore, found Fikry’s women-only carpooling services an ideal answer to her
commuting restraints. “Traveling with Fikry is much easier and emotionally relieving
for me. She is a good driver, and she isn’t annoying or morbidly curious like
most car drivers,” said Ghareeb.
a span of months, and despite a global pandemic that has brought the world to a
halt, Fikry’s reputation as a safe driver with a courteous and cheerful
demeanor had won her thousands of followers, and an expanding base of clients
beyond her home city. Her business’ Facebook page quickly multiplied in number,
drawing over 15,000 female members from all around the country, and by April 2021,
she was organizing day trips for women of different ages, at the behest of her
they suggested going on trips, I liked the idea because I love traveling and
exploring new places. I began with some tours for small numbers, and when the
demand increased, I started making deals with buses and planning full trips,”
Fikry excitedly explained.
various entities, including labor unions and social clubs, organize regular
day-trips across Egypt, especially amidst efforts by the government to boost
internal tourism during periods of disrupted international tourism that have
plagued the vital sector over the past decade, such trips are mostly
family-targeting, and do not provide the privacy which women clients of Fikry
the past year, Fikry has organized over 30 one-day trips to Egyptian cities
popular among tourists, both local and international, such as Cairo,
Alexandria, but also to cities with a more local appeal, like Ismailia, Fayoum,
Sharkia governorate has been her take off point, she is often joined by women
who come in from other Egyptian cities, Cairo, Tanta, and Ismailia, looking to
explore new places in the company of like-minded women.
Abdeen, a 34-year-old psychotherapist from Tanta governorate, is one of Fikry’s
frequent customers. Living around 80 kilometers away from Fikry’s pickup
points, she drives her car for at least 90 minutes to be able to catch her
trips. The cheerful and supportive vibes of Fikry’s trips, and their
exclusivity to women, are what makes her travel this far to join her trips,
one of those who doesn’t like to interact a lot with men. During Fikry’s trips,
we get to make new friends, be free, laugh, sing, and joke together without any
restrictions,” said Abdeen.
to a middle-class dwindling under increased economic strains, Fikry vies to
make her trips affordable for women in the same social and economic segment.
“It’s challenging to set the prices as I’m always trying not to overwhelm my
customers. I usually go on a test trip, check entrance fees and travel costs,
and then add a small percentage for myself,” said Fikry.
trips range in price between $8 and $20 per person, depending on the
destination, activities and itineraries.
a mother too, Fikry appreciates mothers’ need for a relaxing time while on
these trips. Putting her own intuition and experience in organizing
itineraries, she arranges children-friendly trips, paying attention to details
that would get children engaged, including bus seating that bring them together
before they even reach the trip destination.
was worried that my eight-year-old son wouldn’t enjoy his time, but when we
reached our pickup point, I found that Fikry had seated us next to other
children to get them to know my son before we reached the trip location,” said
planning her trips, Fikry also takes into consideration school breaks and
examination schedules, to allow as many mothers, and their children, a day off
from academic stress when possible.
Fikry’s trips are a way to disconnect her clients from daily routines that
confine them to work and tending to their family’s obligations and commitments,
these getaways also offer life-changing experiences for others who had never
gotten the chance to travel alone or who have little social skills.
lot of my customers tell me that my tours help them get out of their comfort
zones. Some parents have even reached out to me and told me that if it weren’t
for my trips, they wouldn’t have allowed their daughters to go out,” Fikry
by her clients’ growing trust in her services, Fikry is planning to start
organizing overnight trips for those who are interested.
benefiting from these trips are not limited to middle-aged and young women, but
older women who join these feminine groups to discover new boundaries and
achieve personal fulfillment and happiness.
companionship is always prompting me to join Fikry’s tours. I went with them to
places for the first time in my life. It’s making me feel the change and have
inner peace,” said Nawal Abdelrahman, a 66-year-old from Sharkia governorate.
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