It’s important to take a moment to evaluate where we’ve been, where we stand, and where we want to be in the subject of gender equality which is an issue that touches the core of SEKEM, for there could be no sustainable development without every man’s and woman’s contribution.
This year SEKEM did not only celebrate the International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, it’s dedicating the entire month to celebrate women. Finally, on the 21th of March the yearly SEKEM Spring Festival was dedicated especially to gender balance as well.
Increasing number of girls at the Vocational Training Center
As in the past years, again in 2019 students of grade 12 interned in SEKEM’s Vocational Training Center in order to get insights into professions that are mainly occupied by the opposite sex. Hence, girls had the chance to experience professions like electrical engineering or carpentry and boys helped in the kindergarten and primary school. Since 2015, SEKEM yearly organized a Girls’ Day to break the stereotype of gender oriented professions and offer its students to learn outside of the box. And since that happened, a lot has changed. Today there are 12 girls studying electricity and 12 in the carpentry workshop. SEKEM’s approach here is to teach the students about gender equality and women empowerment through practice, not only in theory.
It all starts with Education
Starting from kindergarten, boys and girls learn and play together, learning to value and help one another. They learn through activities that their abilities are not defined by gender and that they are not limitless. “Nothing to separate us, no nationality, no title or rank and no gender; we start everyday standing in a circle, all as one. Hand in hand we recite words on harmony, love, beauty and productivity,” explains Gamal El-Sayed, SEKEM School director, the typical SEKEM circle that all community members and co-workers attend.
Man and woman working hand in hand
SEKEM paves the way for women to succeed and unfold their potential in many different ways; helping them to tackle obstacles, find their cause and fight against it. When the turnover rate of women was high in the company NatureTex, Organic textiles company, an investigation and research had been conducted, which led to the discovery of the cause. Female coworkers felt the need to leave their jobs when they got married and had children, as they found it difficult to manage their time between home duties and job. NatureTex came up with practical solutions to motivate its female workers and create more awareness for the meaning of gender balance. In this context, SEKEM summarized and published an official Gender Strategy for a Balanced Society for all it’s companies and institutions. In the strategy document, SEKEM committed itself to offer women but also men specific rights and chances – for instance part-time and work from home, as well as flexible working hours or extra break times for mothers and fathers. That is just one example of how SEKEM supports its community in general, and women in specific.
Women for a sustainable community
Not oblivious to the challenges and struggles women endure in Egypt and the Middle East, SEKEM sends a strong message by setting an example of all the positive outcomes a sustainable community has to offer to each of its members; closing gaps between men and women, removing barriers and replacing them with mutual respect and partnership.
An inspiring success story: Doaa Mohamed Gabal story marks women’s achievements in SEKEM and in Egypt