2014 - 16 Days of Activism

Meet Rana Allam, Egypt

Rana was a managing editor with the Daily News Egypt, and is now a freelance writer.

Meet Rana Allam, Egypt

Rana Allam knew before graduating high school that she would become a journalist, having grown up in a home with a mother who valued writing and politics. What she didn’t realize was that she would also become an outspoken human rights advocate.

Two years after starting her career, Rana wrote an article about 52 men who were arrested on charges of homosexuality. Many in Egypt wanted to deny these men access to justice, and to have them killed. Rana wrote her article from a human rights perspective—defending the men and their right to sexual freedom—and was shocked by the backlash.

After this experience Rana made a conscious choice to not only be a journalist, but a human rights defender.

“Justice does not exist in {countries like Egypt}”, says Rana. “You can see how the law is bent for the rich and the powerful, and how the poor and the weak are abused. They don’t even know that they have rights to begin with, so your job becomes just making them aware that they have rights.”

The country is still struggling under military rule, even after a popular revolution ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.  The spirit of reform that drove people to Tahrir Square during the revolution is still alive and well, but many activists have paid a high price.  Crackdowns on civil society make working as a human rights defender sometimes difficult and dangerous.  Some activists are behind bars.

Rana says that the shift in attitude is perhaps the most important change since 2011.

“Before the revolution, when you started talking about politics with anyone, the first thing they would tell you is ‘I know nothing of politics, I don’t care, let’s just work and feed our kids.’ They did not know the relationship between their daily life and the politicians. Now, everyone speaks politics. They know that they have rights, that there is something better, and that it does affect them. This is the beginning of the end of dictatorships in this country.”


Read some of Rana’s articles on the Daily News Egypt.

Find out more about HarassMap’s efforts to end sexual harassment in Egypt.

Watch Four Hours of Walking in Cairo as a Woman by Egyptian Streets, December 4, 2014.

Egypt: Trail Shows Need to Combat Female Genital Mutilation, Human Rights Watch, November 27, 2014.