Friday, 2 December 2011

Egyptian women’s orgs can’t join 16 Days Against Gender Violence campaign

Filed under: Africa files,gender,Human Rights,Middle East,Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:40 PDT

November 25th was the International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women, and it launched the the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign which culminates on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.

This year’s 16 Days theme is “Militarism and Ending Violence against Women, ” which offers the chance for us to address the challenges faced by many women living in increasingly militarized zones. As we know, wars escalate violence against women.

In Egypt, we have seen beautiful and powerful participation by women, and an increasing prominence of women as Egyptians fight for their freedoms. The escalation of violence in Egypt over the past few weeks however (discussed in the video below), demonstrated the role of women in this movement as women’s organizations had to suspend their activities for the 16 Days Campaign.

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A New Theory for the Foreign Policy Frontier: Collaborative Power

Filed under: Africa files,Human Rights,Media and Conflict,Middle East — administrator @ 13:23 PDT

Shortly after Egyptian security forces detained well-known Egyptian-American blogger and columnist Mona Eltahawy last Wednesday night in the Egyptian Interior Ministry in Cairo, she managed to tweet five chilling words to her more than 60,000 followers: “beaten arrested in Interior Ministry.” Her tweet went out at 8:44 pm Eastern Standard Time (3:44 am in Cairo).  At 9:05 pm, I got a direct message on Twitter from the NPR strategist Andy Carvin, who covers English-language social media from Arab protests, telling me of Mona’s tweet. After responding to him, I immediately sent an email to my former colleagues at the State Department. Within another hour, I’d heard back and was able to tweet that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was on the case. Nick Kristof, citing his own contacts at the State Department,, sent out a similar message to his million-plus followers. By then, #FreeMona, a hashtag Carvin had started to help track the disparate efforts to help Mona, was already trending worldwide on Twitter. A few hours later, Mona was free, although with two broken bones and a traumatic story of sexual assault. Maged Butter, an Egyptian blogger who had been arrested with Eltahawy, was also released.

A debate about the role of Twitter and whether or not it helped win Mona’s release has already been joined by Andrew Rasiej and Evgeny Morozov. The ever-perceptive and thoughtful Zeynep Tufekci wrote a long post reflecting on the nature of this intervention.  Adrija Bose also wrote on the episode at FirstPost, as did Alix Dunn at the Engine Room. I will not join that debate directly here, but the incident provides the perfect hook for a piece that I have been wanting to write for a while about the nature of power on the foreign policy frontier.

This past fall, I gave the inaugural Joseph S. Nye lecture at Princeton. Nye is perhaps the world’s pre-eminent theorist of power; he coined the term “soft power” for the power of attraction versus “hard power,” the power of coercion. (Full disclosure: he’s also a mentor and an old friend.) I used the lecture to contrast what I then called bottom-up power to what I argued was Nye’s concept of top-down power. But, on reflection, I think “collaborative power” is a better and more accurate term for the phenomenon I am trying to capture.

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