Rania Seddik Egypt : » save our heritage » !
Selected from an applicant pool of over 1000 projects, the finalists for 2012 of the Cartier Woman Initiative Award come from 15 different countries. They all lead compagnies. UFFP met one of the finalists for North Africa and the Middle East, the egyptian Rania Seddik owner of GebRaa for Egyptian Treasures.
She was the Finalist 2012 for Middle East and North Africa. For us, sisters of the arab awakening considering the desert strom the arab spring is going towards, especially for women, it was heart moving to meet and exchange with Rania. As she truly symbolises, courage, passion and resilience. She confided to us, that before attending Cartier, she lost any will to live, as she was confronted to a very painful situation in her life. And yet, stronger then ever she came to share the experience with all her sisters of the World. No matter what is happening in our region, arabic and muslim women are figthing in many fields. And one way to overcome all the obstacles on our way is to prove that we can be self entreprenors, be dedicated to our community as well as showing to the world and conservative islamic movements that we can be modern, emancipated and proud of our Roots. GebRaa for Egyptian Treasures, is a great proof to it all !
Rania knew prior to the competition that she would not win, she was strong enough, but in her heart, she already did and for us she is a WINNER.
UFFP editor met Rania Seddik for you :
Being here with Cartier, it’s quite a challenge ? indeed, it is an amazing experience and I profit from every bit of it, it gives me great exposure and visibility, I »m meeting different people and different projects and this is quite nurturing for me. It’s amazing, the Cartier team as well, know us so well, our stories, our goals.
Very motivating then ? oh yes, we feel like we are in a big Family, Cartier believe in the people and they are really very supportive with us. Being at the Women’s Forum is such a great opportunity that I’m so happy to live, regardless of the results of the Competition.
Today women of Egypt are in Jeopardy,what is your vision of things really ?I believe we must give time to our Country, we are just drafting our Constitution, of course since the majority is islamist, they wish to include Charia to the Constitution. At the end of the day, noone really knows the content of Charia. They pretend we are or shall be equal, but the dangerosity would come by the fact that we don’t master really the implications of Charia on women. Noone has agreed on what Charia law is!
Religion and politics, a healthy marriage? I sincerly don’t think so, it is only a way to reach power through religion. Advocating in the name of god, they can manipulate easier the people, mostly those who are not educated enough and don’t have financial means. The danger comes really from that.
As a woman, don’ t you feel, we were fooled? I still have hope, the revolt against mubarak, the main concern was to remove him from power. We wanted the end of a regim, but I knew that the oppression of the old regime created a political void, we had not alternativ but the islamic brotherhood! it »s not a surprise they won the election, they were the only organised group we had.
The islamist brotherhood popularity did decrease though? yes over the past two years, they did not even make 20% of the voices in the first round of the presidential elections. They are still here, but i consider the third candidate in Egypt, the revolution candidate is a leftist who believes in freedom. Amazingly, the islamists took power, but the Country is in a very bad state so no matter the party, we must accept to give these four years to the islamists. Whatever they do, the change won’t come overnight. In this four next years let »s establish a grass root political party that would make a coalition with all the liberal movements in Egypt and revolutionnary votes, the people who are not islamists!
As an egyptian woman, any concerns? we have moments of insecurity and instability, but the islamists try to play by the rule for the sake of Western observers so they can stay in power, am not really freaking out even with this Constitution to be. Whatever happens, most of the people are against them, let them mess with themselves. Ok we say to the islamists, take the power and will see what they are going to do with it !
We did a great revolution?! yes indeed, from Tunis to Cairo, we stood up !
Tell us about GebRaa Treasures of Egypt? My background focuses on development, we have such a long history, and with tourism it is important to save our heritage. This heritage is highly endangered now with globalisation in its worse form: good aspects but bad aspects too because it is standardising the whole world. We are all consuming the same way, products ect
We are loosing our culture? yes we must try to save our identity, culture and heritage now. We must open markets to our endangered crafts, we cannot only rely on tourism, super down and vulnerable after the arabic spring. It is very bad, I’m just starting and have little capital, so I will focus first on well established crafts that can have potential for exports. Carpets, potery, baskets, silver, we have beautiful products.
Your specialty? The crafts that are only in Egypt, like the mother of pearl in laid wood it is only in Egypt ! as well as tents making. Patchworks using recycled textile and cotton. The mother of pearl is actually using recycled wood and these are my main two crafts.Also special embroideries coming from different parts of Egypt. And I work with marginalised women in Sinai, bedouins women as they have small rights. As well as working with women of upper Egypt. The ancient culture is prevailing in these communities of women.
Sustainable development is therefore the heart of your work ? of course yes, it is all green, using natural material with high element culture in it. It has aslo social empowerment for women and marginalised categories. As well as creating economical opportunities. Environmental,social and economical impacts.