Gender inequality is a prevalent problem in Egyptian society. Due to the mixed factors of the lack of education and a dominant male culture, Egyptian women struggle with problems that include early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). Therefore, they are left to fight for their basic rights to education, childhood and sometimes life.
In this light, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Bibliotheca Alexandrina, supported by the Swiss Embassy in Egypt, organized “Music for Development” concert aiming to raise awareness about female empowerment as well as population control through employing divergent method.
Held on July 18 at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the concert comes as part of the UN’s “Entertainment Education” program which aims at combating FGM and overpopulation. The program uses art to deliver a message to the youth through rather unorthodox ways, with messages being delivered through music, drama, and sports.
UNFPA representative Aleksandar Bodiroza told Egypt Independent that the initiative falls in line with the Egyptian government’s agenda for women empowerment, explaining that they wanted to focus on issues such as FGM, early marriage, women empowerment as well as promoting the benefits of small families.
“So we’ve been thinking of out-of-the-box methods to attract future parents to have small families,” he said.
On that note, the concert songs will address concepts such as family planning, women’s right to education and combatting FGM. Other topics that the songs will tackle include youth agency and diversity.
A wide range of artists will be taking part in the concert, including Alexandria-based Nubian art band “High Dam”, Alexandrian band “Almena”, singer Sahar Al-Zoghbi and artist Yasmeen Zaki .
“The festival will also feature MTV singer Daniela Dimitrovska from Macedonia who will sing about smaller families and girls getting married when its time,” added Bodiroza.
Dimitrovska told Egypt Independent that she decided to do the concert as the message of women empowerment spoke to her, as she has been a Y-PEER Ambassador for ten years, “The story started in my country when we tried to raise awareness issues there.”
“I realized that music can help me participate for my country. Now I can extend my experience and I’m happy for it.”
“Thee weeks ago I had a meeting with Alexandrian singers and we agreed to make six songs each to address an issue. I’m here to share my 10-year experience with them and I want them to do great work, encouraging other singers to raise awareness.”
As for her role in the concert, she added, “I’ll be singing three songs. Two that address early marriage and one for female rights.”
UNFPA Representative Bodiroza stressed on the importance of art to promote different issues, adding that the concert will not be the end to using music to promote women empowerment, stating that “We will start tours in August to sing in small villages and engage with the people.”
This is not the first event the UNFPA has hosted under the “Entertainment Education” program; in January the UNFPA launched “Crossing Egypt”, a project where it collaborated with Egyptian athletes to promote practices such as family planning, youth education and combatting FGM through a 1000 km walk.
“Artists, musicians, actors have to step up and use their credibility as loved figures to use the power of words to raise awareness,” Bodiroza said.
Dimitrovska echoed Bodiroza’s thoughts, saying “Art in every form is very important in every culture and country because, with true art we can contribute to society and address social issues, reminding people that we are all the same.”