Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interview with Heba Habib – HarassMap

From 10th to the 12th of November we attended the World Summit Youth Awards (WSYA) in Graz, Austria. We witnessed many amazing people who presented their projects that in some way aimed to fulfill the millennium development goals. While we had the opportunity to enjoy all the projects, we decided to concentrate on HarassMap – a project that has its roots in Egypt.

During the Gala on the 12th, we had the honor of interviewing Heba Habib – the spokesperson of HarassMap at WSYA. Our first impression of Miss Habib was that she was an energetic and fun-loving, young woman with a big heart.

We began our interview by asking her what the purpose of HarassMap was, and she eagerly answered that the main purpose was to discourage harassment of women, and to showcase that it really is a big problem. However; now they’re taking their initiative to slightly different direction. HarassMap will soon be getting a new outlook and a broader target group – not to mention a new name. “Catch Harassers” (their new name) will not only focus on the harassment of women, but also of men, disabled, children and the elderly. Miss Habib clear on the fact that they wanted to implement the male population in their project – as harassment is not only something that affects women. Furthermore, when the project was only geared towards women, the male reaction wasn’t very positive, as some men mocked it by saying for example “Oh, so this is where I can go to harass women! Nice!” …Which, of course, was not the desired purpose of the mission.

We were also interested in finding out more about Miss Habib’s role in HarassMap. She is not the creator of the project, but decided to become a volunteer after she heard about her friend being involved in this important and vital venture. One of her tasks in HarassMap is to get the video part of the website up and running – in addition to work with, and recruit, new volunteers. The topic of volunteering, however, brought up some of their most challenging obstacles. As HarassMap is solely comprised of volunteers, all the members have their own lives, full time jobs, families and studies to attend to – which often makes it hard to find people who have the time to stay fully committed. For example, Miss Habib told us that recently one of the volunteers she was closely working with, suddenly dropped out, even though she had seemed very excited and committed at the start – which sadly often proves to be the case.

We should be able to walk down the street, and visit our local food store without being afraid of getting harassed. This is one of the most important things for us involved in this project.”

Personally we found Miss Habib to be a very open and warm person who is easy to talk to. We were happy to find out that they were moving HarassMap away from only women, to rather focus on a broader target group, because you will not achieve gender equality by focusing on separating women from the mass, and presenting them as weak and vulnerable.

Great initiative solely based on donations and volunteer work. We are impressed!

-AK & Maria

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to hear they are evolving and including different target groups. Though I think harassment is the main problem here before gender equality. Maybe I think equality is still too far to reach. Would full equality eventually remove harassment altogether?

    I don't know. All I know is, I heard a pretty strange conversation behind me after Miss Habib's presentation. Someone proclaimed there is no harassment of women in his country. A woman next to him told him he probably just can't see it and then they went into a debate about whether harassers are usually rich older or poor younger men..

    Anyway it's good that there still are volunteers doing this and drawing attention to the problems. Making people debate. The platform they have chosen must be a good one, as it is so popular even within WSYA. It really takes advantage of the internet and the mobile media to make the service accessible and thus widely used.