The Citizenship Initiative - A young woman’s pursuit of proclaiming her existence
When Nesma heard that the Citizenship Initiative was coming to her village, she made sure that she was among the first to line in front of the Badrasheen local unit in Giza, where she resides, to get her National Identification Card. She had dreamt about getting this ID card for long, ever since she went searching for a job only to discover that without this card, she simply did not exist in the eyes of the Egyptian government.
- Nesma is one of the 5 million women in Egypt who do not have ID cards and accordingly are denied their basic rights as citizens on daily basis.
- The project aims to issue two million National ID Cards for Egyptian women, through mobile registrars that can reach out to remote and marginalized areas where most of the women without ID cards live.
At 28, Nesma is the principal provider for her family of three children and disabled husband. Due to the challenging economic situation in Egypt currently Nesma’s family—like many other Egyptian families—have always found very hard to make ends meet, just to afford their most basic needs of food, shelter and education for their children. Nesma felt responsible not only for her own but for securing the future of her children.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Nesma as she patiently stood in line. “I need this ID card to be able to find a decent job and fulfill my responsibilities as a mother and wife. But most importantly, I need it to prove my existence as a woman.”
“Nesma is one of the 5 million women in Egypt who do not have ID cards and accordingly are denied their basic rights as citizens on daily basis,” affirmed Heba Wafa, Gender Officer in UNDP Egypt Country Office. “Without IDs women like Nesma cannot apply for jobs, enroll their kids in school or have a source of income that would help them contribute to providing their family with their basic needs.”
The “Citizenship Initiative” is a project that UN Women implements in partnership with UNDP, the Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD) and the Social Fund for Development (SFD), in collaboration with the Civil Status Organization (CSO) in the Ministry of Interior (MOI).
The project aims to issue two million National ID Cards for Egyptian women, through mobile registrars that can reach out to remote and marginalized areas where most of the women without ID cards live.
The ID card allows women to vote and seek membership in political parties. It gives them access to government services including public hospitals, literacy programs and banking services. It also enables them to have valid marriage contracts that preserve their marital rights and to move freely around in the country. In short, it empowers them to participate in public life, to be full citizens with rights and responsibilities.
“My story is not unique. None of my women neighbors had IDs,” said Nesma story. “After I got mine exemplifies I explained to them the benefits the Citizenship Initiative, and encouraged them to get their own IDs. Not only are Nesma and her female neighbors now more aware of the benefits of an ID and their rights as full citizens. Now they all exist as proud women in every sense of the word.