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The League of Women Voters was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to meet with 20-30 women activists on how to work effectively on issues of importance to women during the transition period to democracy. Zaida Arguedas, the League's Deputy Executive Director and Senior Director of its Global Democracy Program was asked to lead this effort.
During the brief visit Zaida met with women representing established groups in Egypt and with grassroots women who were very receptive and curious about the role they could play in the transition. These meetings were held in close partnership with the local office of U.N. Women. UN Women-Egypt undertook the task of translating into Arabic the League’s publication “Empowering Citizens to Influence Public Policy: A Guide for Civil Society Advocates” which was distributed to hundreds of organizations associated with UN Women under the sponsorship of UN and the League.
Zaida also participated in a full day of media related events. First, she was interviewed by Nile International TV -- a government owned station -- in their "Morning Show" on July 26 on the "the power of the vote" and the importance of voting. This show can be found in zaidaarguedas utube July 26, 2011. This was followed by a "press round discussion" with seven women journalists and the interviews were published in Arabic and in English in different journals and newspapers. The journalists represented Al Ahram (pro-government daily) , The Daily News Egypt (supplement of the Herald Tribune), Hawaa (Eve) Magazine; a blogger and human rights activist, a blogger and Director of Free Egyptian Women Organization, and Youm7 (independent daily and website).
Ms. Arguedas also participated in a panel discussion -- with two Egyptian business women -- and addressed personal life/career stories with 60 plus high school female students learning English at AMIDEAST, a leading American non-profit organization engaged in international education, training and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa.
Zaida also traveled by train to Alexandria where the American Center organized a full schedule of meetings with different nongovernmental organizations. The activities included a workshop held at the American Center on “Strategies to Increase Women Participation in Politics.” These women were very receptive to new ideas, some were thinking on how to improve the current system, some were already working in small ways to raise awareness among women about their rights, and women who were intrigued by the invitation to the workshop but who have never participated in anything dealing with the political process.