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Soraya Bahgat: Learning On The Go — on women's rights and activism

Soraya Bahgat will share her journey as an “accidental activist” and social entrepreneur. While working as Head of HR for a leading Egyptian real estate developer, she founded a volunteer movement to combat the pandemic mob sexual assaults that had plagued Tahrir Square during the 2011 revolution. The movement intervened in over 100 cases and brought the pandemic to local and international media attention. This contributed to Egypt passing a landmark sexual harassment law in 2014.

After protests in Tahrir Square have ended, she shifted her attention to other forms of violence and discrimination against women including female genital mutilation and is a committed and passionate advocate for women and girls.

In her talk, she will share what she has learned about launching grassroots movements, leadership and issues pertaining to gender equality. She will give a briefing on women’s rights in Egypt and the Arab World and will share insights on women in the workplace. She will also share what she has learned from pursuing less productive activism, setbacks and failure.

Soraya Bahgat is a career woman, consultant, advocate for women’s rights, and campaigner for tolerance in Egypt. She has a passion for championing causes that contribute to society and empower individuals to achieve their goals. Of particular interest to her are the areas of culture, education, capacity building, and employability as catalysts for change in society. Soraya strongly believes in the power of individuals to stand together in the face of adversity and in the power of civil society and grassroots movements to bring about change. It was this belief that prompted her to start Tahrir Bodyguard, a movement of uniformed volunteers intervening to stop the brutal mob sexual assaults on women in Tahrir Square in the wake of Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Soraya has been chosen as one of the Women Future Leaders of the Mediterranean by Sciences Po University and one of the Young Social Leaders by the Singapore Summit in 2015 and 2017 respectively. In 2018, she was awarded the Inspire Egypt Award in the gender equality category by the British Embassy in Cairo. She is a graduate of the American University in Cairo.


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