Arab Reform Initiative Podcast
Go back to the Podcast Series

Series # 3
Archiving Feminist Activism in Egypt

Arab Reform Initiative Podcasts


  • Episode 1 - 
    The journey of a feminist from one tool of activism to another

    In the first episode, host Reem Abouzaid speaks to prominent feminist activist and professor of English literature at Cairo University Dr. Hoda El-Sadda. Dr. Hoda talks about her legacy of activism as well as her understanding of how the Egyptian feminist movement shifted positions from cooperating with the state from one historical phase to another. In this episode, Dr. Hoda disagrees with experts and academics atomizing contemporary feminist activism with the rise and fall of the Arab Spring.  She traces the historical line through which feminist activism evolved per the contextual elements surrounding it and will continue to evolve into a future that reflects such a local character. This lively conversation touches upon feminist activism in Egyptian academia, social media as a tool for activism, and the recent #Guardianship_is_my_right campaign addressing the personal status law.



  • Episode 2 - 
    Investigating as a form of organization

    In the second episode, host Reem Abouzaid speaks to feminist activists and professionals Salma El-naqqash and Farida Kalaaqi about imagining a feminist justice outside the judicial courts and conventional channels bypassing the authoritarian system in Egypt. Salma and Farida talk about events that took place in 2017 with the earlier trickledown effect of the MeToo global movement through what was known as the “Email incident”: when an email circulated within a circle of female employees in the Egyptian civil society warning about two civil society professionals’ acts of sexual misconduct. In reaction to this incident, a committee was formed by civil society members to investigate the allegations. The investigative committee model became a customary practice within civil society in events of sexual violence. In this episode, Salma and Farida talk about their roles in one of these committees, the process of operating such a committee and their understanding of the power dynamics surrounding their work. In so doing, they shed light on an understudied tool of feminist organization.

  • Episode 3 - 
    Social media as a feminist tool

    In the summer of 2020, young female students took the lead in accusing 23-year-old college student, Ahmed Bassam Zaky (“ABZ”) of rape, sexual harassment, and other acts of sexual misconduct. The events of “ABZ” crime were exposed by anonymized testimonies shared by multiple social media accounts. In this third episode, Reem Abuzaid speak to young feminist activist and student, Zeina El-Dessouki, about her involvement with the group of activists who exposed ABZ in 2020 and continues to advocate for women’s rights to safe streets. Zeina talks about the centrality of social media and technology to the contemporary feminist movement in Egypt and their prospects despite the limiting Egyptian context and potential future usage in activism.


  • Episode 4 - 
    Silencing the Tiktok girls

    In April 2020, the Egyptian general prosecutor launched a campaign against the “TikTik girls”, a number of young TikTok female influencers who were generating economic revenue from hosting chatting sessions on social media applications like Likey. This state-orchestrated campaign “to protect the values and principles of the Egyptian family” targeted influencers including Haneen Hossam and Mawada El-Adham. In this episode, Reem Abuzaid invites gender expert and activist Lobna Darwish to talk about the centrality of class to feminist mobilization in Egypt. Comparing the “TikTok girls” campaign and the ABZ case, Lobna highlights how the state's position is part of an attempt to enforce control over social media as a medium of political expression.

  • Episode 5 - 
    Believing the survivors

    In episode five, host Reem Abuzaid talks to filmmaker and feminist activist Aida El-Kashef about a central principle to the recent feminist wave of activism: “we believe the survivor”. This fundamental feminist principle first spurred a fiery debate on social media during the "email incident” channeling similar debates to that in the MeToo Movement around the roles of men and women and the meaning of consent in sexual relations, challenging both many prevailing customs and the traditional feminist discourse in Egypt. In the 2020 wave of feminist activism, "we believe the survivors"   represented more than just a political position; it offered a political tool for supporting women testifying against sexual predators. Aida talks to the podcast about her implication in a retaliatory legal action for using her social media accounts to endorse anonymous testimonies by victims of rape and sexual assault in the cinematography profession. She talks about the importance of anonymity in the Egyptian model of feminist mobilization against gender-based violence, about her political commitment towards "believing the survivors”, and her actions against the legal case targeting her and other feminist activists who supported survivors of rape and sexual violence.


Archiving Feminist Activism in Egypt is the Arab Initiative Reform’s third podcast series. It takes a historical approach to investigate a mainstream narrative connecting feminist activism in Egypt with the global MeToo movement. Through its five episodes, the podcast creates an archive of narratives by individuals who were involved firsthand in feminist activism in Egypt in recent years. In each episode, activists recount their experiences and share their analysis of the conditions that shaped their activism.

Part of our Jalsa | جلسة podcast, this series arranges and officialize these narratives to tell a certain story: the story of an Egypt that has witnessed the proliferation of feminist activists who brought different modalities of activism to correspond with the boundaries - the limitations and opportunities - offered in the local context.