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Freedom to Create celebrates female empowerment.

CAIRO: As part of Freedom to Create's 2010 series of events in Cairo, a forum on female empowerment and creativity was held at the American University in Cairo's campus in New Cairo.

The forum, moderated by Femi Oke, former CNN broadcaster and journalist, brought together former first lady Jihan Sadat, Australian female entrepreneur and philanthropist Dianne Laurance, human rights activists Dalia Ziada and journalist Mariane Pearl as well as UCLA and Columbia law professor Kimberle Crenshaw.

The forum was an effort to celebrate the creative vitality of women.

The panel discussion aimed at addressing the cultural and religious dogmas as well as the potential of women in the future.

According to Freedom to Create, a renowned international organization, women are a vital part of society and play a special role.

The female population comprises half of the world's creative capital as well as being uniquely positioned to steer the future generation.

Due to women having fewer opportunities than men to contribute to society, whether in the arts, political leadership or elsewhere, Freedom to Create is making a conscious effort to help empower women.

The panelists discussed topics ranging from education to sexual harassment to political involvement.

"Giving women more education and employment opportunities can make a big difference. We want to help women help themselves," said Sadat.

All the panelists agreed that educating women more and keeping them in school will greatly increase their impact and influence on society.

"It is not a privilege to be educated, but a right; something many people around the world forget," added Laurance.

Ziada is prominently known for using social media as a way to fight for women's rights.

"A simple freedom, such as being able to use the internet, can empower women greatly and it is a valued right to fight for that not everyone enjoys," said Ziada.

She also pointed out that women can start small to make a difference, like within their families.

"I started being an activist at age 8 within my family fighting the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and as I got older, I moved to fighting violence against women," commented Ziada.

Laurance used an example of the media covering a sexual harassment case in Australia that aided in reducing the number of cases. Sadat and Ziada agreed that, like Australia, Egypt can use the media to raise awareness about issues such as sexual harassment.

Legal amendments and women protecting themselves were also points raised on how to help fight sexual harassment.

All the panelists agreed that involving men in the path towards empowering would help greatly instead of marginalizing the male population from the fight.

"In the past, I was criticized for being so active in my life, but it later turned to support; change takes time," said Sadat.

Laurance also commented on quota implementation in the political realm furthers women, especially with the elections this week.

"There has been an overwhelming response for electing women into political seats after a quota has been established and implemented," said Laurance.

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 29, 2010
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