AUC Hosts Maya Morsy ’95, President of Egypt’s NCW, in a Virtual Discussion on Preventing and Combating Sexual Harassment
The American University in Cairo (AUC) hosted today, in a virtual discussion, Maya Morsy '95, the President of Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) and AUC President Francis Ricciardone to discuss the latest measures and efforts to combat sexual harassment. As a start for a national dialogue, today’s virtual discussion, “Zero Tolerance: Ending Sexual Harassment, From Awareness to Policy,” also highlighted the future cooperation between AUC and NCW to promote awareness on sexual harassment in Higher Education and discuss the policies and measures that guarantee a safer environment for women and girls. The discussion was moderated by Amina Khairy '87, writer, columnist, and feature editor at Independent Arabia.
Morsy highlighted the need to continue promoting awareness of sexual harassment to make sure women and girls are aware of their rights. “It is alarming to find that many women and girls weren’t aware of their rights and thus were afraid to speak up, when Egypt already has a legislative umbrella for protecting women.” At the discussion, Morsy explained how the Egyptian constitution, laws and amendments protect women and girls from all forms of violence, including sexual harassment and assault whether in public or private spaces and online as well. “At the NCW, we are standing strong with all women to make sure they have all the needed information, know where to go, how to file any complaints, and receive legal support from us. There is a strong political will from President Sisi downwards to protect Egyptian girls and women, and there is a strong commitment from the public prosecution at large.”
In today’s conversation, Ricciardone emphasized AUC’s commitment to maintaining a learning and working environment free from all forms of harassment and discrimination. “We have had a tradition of teaching and promoting a culture of civility and respect for all, and promoting awareness of the rights and responsibilities of the students towards each other, and towards their country.”
However, he added that more needs to be done: “Many of our female and male students, faculty, and staff aren’t sufficiently aware of AUC’s policy, procedures and we are strengthening that. We have a strong zero-tolerance policy, procedures, and places to go if you are a victim of sexual harassment or have witnessed a harassment incident. We are strengthening the current policies and procedures, and I am proud of our record on this matter, but we recognize we can always do better.”
He stressed that AUC has a strict policy for sexual harassment, “Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy,” that applies to allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation that take place on AUC property or at University-sponsored events, regardless of their location.
As AUC has zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment, it dedicates an online reporting system that enables any person who experienced harassment or discrimination to report a complaint. According to the policy, AUC has a duty to keep all parties involved in a reported case confidential.
In addition to the existing Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination policy, AUC’s latest measures to combat sexual harassment included the changing of the Title IX Office, that used to receive complaints only from students, to the Office of Institutional Equity, to report directly to the Office of the President and to receive complaints from all members of AUC community: students, staff and faculty.
Strengthening AUC’s measures against sexual harassment, it will be mandatory that every member of the community, including the president and senior leadership, receives an online training designed to raise awareness on sexual harassment, no later than the end of Fall 2020.
AUC also dedicated a special page on its website urging members of the community to speak up. It provides all the necessary information to raise awareness on AUC's reporting channels so that justice could be served to survivors of harassment.
As AUC has an active role in the local community, the University is taking its expertise and knowledge, outside the campus to join forces with other universities and organizations in Egypt to create real and lasting social and cultural change through a national dialogue that is intended to be held by September 2020.
Morsy and Ricciardone both stressed the importance of encouraging women and girls to speak up and report sexual harassment incidents. Morsy said: “When more women and girls report incidents, harassers will not take harassment lightly. With the latest law guaranteeing confidentiality to victims, I am sure many will come forward and speak up against harassment.”
For more information on #AUCSpeakUp, please visit this page.