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V-Day Announces Launch of the Karama Program and the Opening of Bayat Hawa, the First Safe House for Women in Cairo


On July 17 2005, V-Day launched the Karama Program, envisioned by V-Day Special Representative, Hibaaq Osman, in Cairo, Egypt. Karama, the Arabic word for "dignity," is a partnership with nine countries of the Middle East and North Africa: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Sudan. Through women's organizations and inter-regional agenciessuch as the Arab League and the African Union, Karama will bring together women, men, governments, activists and artists to examine the impact violence makes on women's health, education, and economics, and to come up with campaigns at the national, regional, and international levels to end violence against women, tailored to the cultural realities of the target country. Headquartered in Cairo, Karama will work closely with organizations working in different sectors and on different issues in each society, such as education, health, religion, art, economics, and policy.

V-Day's staff attended the launch and activities in Cairo including Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler and Executive Director Jerri Lynn Fields. As part of the launch, V-Day met with an NGO roundtable of national and regional partners, donors, and select women leaders representing five of the nine affiliated countries across the region. The attendees included: Nancy Bakir, Chief of the Social Affairs in the Arab League; Fahima Hashim of Sudan; Afaf Jabiri of Jordan; Rugia Makki Arab Women's Investors Association; Nadine Abu Zaki of Lebanon, and numerous activists from NGOs in Egypt. Karama's website will launch in late August.

V-Day Opens First Safe House in Egypt
On July 18, V-Day attended the opening of Bayat Hawa, Egypt's first safe house for women and children suffering from domestic violence. Bayat Hawa aims to break the cycle of violence by creating a no-tolerance approach to domestic violence and by providing women with a safe, secure and confidential alternative to staying in an abusive relationship. Created by the Association for the Development & Enhancement of Women (ADEW), the program will offer comprehensive services strategically designed to help its residents deal with the trauma and effects of abuse. Bayat Hawa will be a space where women and children can begin healing, find reprieve from abuse, discover support and community with others dealing with similar issues and receive professional assistance to develop the tools necessary to build healthier and safer lives.

Bayat Hawa will offer: private and family counseling; medical care and health awareness programs; legal assistance; empowerment seminars; skills training and financial literacy; childcare and children's programs; literacy and educational services; advocacy; transitional planning and support; access to micro credit loans; transportation; and play therapy for traumatized children.

Bayat Hawa represents an important step in combating domestic violence in the region. The program will develop and promote a working definition of domestic violence to create common understanding of the problem. ADEW promotes dialogue and raises awareness among Egyptian women, local communities, the media and policy-makers and in conjunction with Bayat Hawa will provide an appropriate service model for other agencies working to end violence against women and children.

Karama Launch in Lebanon
Immediately following the Karama launch in Cairo, Eve Ensler and Hibaaq Osman, V-Day Special Representative and Karama Chair, traveled to Beirut to meet with women's rights organizations, political leaders, and national media for the launch of the Karama Program in Lebanon. During their visit, Nadine Abuozaki, director of Al Hasna magazine, announced a partnership between the Karama Program and the magazine. Through this partnership, Al Hasna' magazine will represent Karama and coordinate a number of activities for the program with Lebanese civil society groups. Eve, Hibaaq and Nadine Abouzaki also visited the head of the parliamentarian educational committee, Bahea Al Hareri, who ensured them that the women's empowerment at the educational level is a vital issue and gave her full support to Karama; Mrs. Nora Joumblatt of Beiteddine festival, who suggested ways to support the Karama Program and its goals; and BAHIA Hiriri, President of the Women's committee in the Arab inter-Parliamentary Union. Al Hasna' magazine is also joining forces with the Beirut International Women's Forum to produce "The Vagina Monologues" on March 2-3, 2006 in Beirut.

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