On November 16, 2012, WFPG hosted a panel discussion on "How Have Women's Political Rights Fared in Egypt?". Panelists included Zainab Al-Suwaij of the American Islamic Congress, Yassmine ElSayed Hani of Al Akhbar Daily Newspaper, and Nancy Okail of Freedom House. The program was moderated by Kate Seelye of the Middle East Institute. The panelists analyzed recent changes in Egypt under the new government and constitutional proposals, as well as what they mean for the future of democracy and women's rights. The program was held at and co-sponsored by NYU Washington, DC.
Zainab Al-Suwaij is the executive director of the American Islamic Congress, left her teaching position at Yale to co-found AIC to help build interfaith and interethnic understanding after 9/11. AIC now has six bureaus worldwide, including the US, Egypt, Iraq, and Tunisia. AIC has trained hundreds of young Middle Eastern activists in the methods of non-violent protest and social media mobilization. A frequent media commentator, Al-Suwaij has also published editorials in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.
Yassmine El Sayed Hani is the Foreign News Editor and US-based Correspondent at Al Akhbar daily newspaper. She is also currently working on a project at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on New Determinants of the US Foreign Policies toward the Middle East after the Arab Spring. Hani was a graduate student at Cairo University when the protests broke out in Cairo. She was in Tahrir Square almost daily and was interviewed several times by NPR’s Tell Me More.
Nancy Okail, director of Freedom House’s Egypt program, is one of dozens of activists being prosecuted by the Egyptian authorities as part of a crackdown on independent civil society groups in the country. She previously worked for the World Bank, UNDP, and Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation, serving under the same minister—Fayza Aboul Naga—who has played a prominent role in the current campaign against NGOs. She holds a PhD on foreign aid relations from the University of Sussex, UK.
Kate Seelye is vice president of the Middle East Institute. Prior to joining MEI, Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist covering the Arab world from her base in Beirut, Lebanon. She reported half hour documentaries for the PBS-TV show Frontline/World. She also covered the region for NPR and for PRI/BBC’s The World.