Despite Travel Ban, Egyptian Feminist Mozn Hassan Receives Her ‘Alternative Nobel’ in Cairo
Human Rights, 25/03/2017
Egyptian women rights defender Mozn Hassan, who is barred from international travel and is facing a possible 25-year jail sentence, received her Right Livelihood Award at a private ceremony in Cairo earlier today.
Mozn Hassan shared the 2016 Swedish prize, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel’, with her organisation Nazra for Feminist Studies “for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination”.
Hassan could not attend the award ceremony in Stockholm last November due to a travel ban imposed on her and other prominent activists by Egyptian authorities. Her and Nazra’s assets are frozen as part of an ongoing investigation targeting several Egyptian NGOs that received foreign funding.
In her acceptance speech, Hassan stated: “The decision of the Right Livelihood Award to hold this ceremony in Cairo is truly significant as it means that appreciation and solidarity can reach you despite travel bans. Today, we feel that the work of Egyptian feminists, especially after 2011, is seen and valued by different actors around the world.”
The event, held aboard Le Pacha, was attended by some 150 guests, including leaders of Egyptian civil society, European and Egyptian parliamentarians, fellow laureates, diplomats and other dignitaries.
Presenting the prize, Monika Griefahn, Chair of the Board of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, said: “Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies embody the latest in a long line of leaders in the Egyptian feminist movement who have played an incredibly important role in shaping the nation’s progress towards gender equality.”
“The current sanctions against Mozn Hassan and Nazra are not only unjust, but they also make it more difficult for them to accomplish their important mission of empowering women in Egypt and the wider Middle East region,” Griefahn added, calling for all charges against Mozn Hassan to be dropped.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Lynn Boylan, Member of the European Parliament representing Sinn Féin, said “Across the world those who feel threatened by strong vocal women often try to dismiss them, to insult them. Feminism can never be defeated; each generation will continue to produce strong brave women until full gender equality is achieved.”
Cecilia Magnusson, a Member of the Swedish parliament, said: “There is work still to be done in Sweden regarding equality but it´s important that we who have accomplished a lot stand up for those who fight in countries where there is still much to do.”
Bärbel Höhn, Member of the German Bundestag, said: “In Germany, we have also had to fight hard for our rights. It needed a change in society, a change in the men’s minds, who were unwilling to give up their power. But it is a fact: a society that does not use the abilities of half of its citizens, the women, such a society cannot achieve the best results and is wasting opportunities.”
Mozn Hassan and Nazra are the third Right Livelihood Award Laureate from Egypt, after Hassan Fathy, known as ‘architect for the poor’, who received the inaugural prize in 1980, and development initiative SEKEM and its founder Ibrahim Abouleish, recognised in 2003.
About Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies
Mozn Hassan founded Nazra for Feminist Studies in 2007. During the Egyptian revolution of 2011, Nazra documented a harrowing wave of sexual assaults on women participating in the protests in Tahrir Square, and helped coordinate support for the survivors.
As part of a coalition of feminist groups, Nazra lobbied for women’s rights to be included in Egypt’s 2014 Constitution and Penal Code. They successfully advocated for the creation of a special unit of the Egyptian police dedicated to combating violence against women. Through the Women Political Participation Academies, they mentor women to stand for elected positions — from professional unions to parliament.
Mozn Hassan has been under a travel ban by the Egyptian General Prosecutor’s order since May 2016 and her and Nazra’s assets were frozen in January 2017 under Case 173 of 2011, commonly known as the ‘NGO Foreign Funding Case’. If convicted, she could face up to 25 years in prison. Three UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights have condemned these arbitrary measures.
Photographs of Mozn Hassan receiving the Right Livelihood Award
Photographs of Mozn Hassan
About the Right Livelihood Award
The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 to “honour and support courageous people and organisations offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems”. It has become widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ and there are now 166 Laureates from 68 countries. In addition to presenting the annual award in Stockholm, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation supports its Laureates, particularly those who may be in danger due to the nature of their work.
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