YW4A Stories of Leadership: Christine Fakry’s Story in the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church

Christine Fakry, a young woman from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo, is an example of what young women can do given an opportunity but also seize the opportunities presented and make good use, taking advantage of them to empower themselves and other young people. 

As a result of her taking the opportunity given to her, Christine was able to negotiate the inclusion of youth activities into the GAP such as two training sessions on sensitization on violence against women and FGM in which 30 youths (15 young women and 15 young men) were trained and their awareness of the importance of gender equality and how to handle or support survivors of SGBV was increased. 

The youth are now faith champions among their peers.

During the year 2023, there was growing recognition among most faith partners in the YW4A programme of the importance of engaging women in faith-based initiatives. This recognition has provided an opportunity for young faith champions who are passionate about their beliefs and have the agency to actively promote positive change within their faith communities. These young faith leaders are taking charge and making a significant impact in various areas, including social and gender justice, through different platforms presented to them.

Photo: Young women and men participate in various leadership and gender equality sessions and activities under the YW4A Initiative in faith institutions in Egypt.

In Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church is making deliberate efforts to create these spaces for young women to thrive. This is evident in the different initiatives the church has put in place to ensure positive change, such as the development and implementation of the safeguarding against sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (SEAH) policy in the church, the plans to establish a SEAH complaint hotline by early 2024, and the meaningful engagement of young women in all the processes. On the other hand, young women in the church have embraced these opportunities and are making good use of them, as illustrated by Christine’s story.

During the church’s Gender Action Plan development for the faith partners in Egypt, the Coptic church tasked a committee comprising 5 faith leaders, 2 young women, and 2 young men. The team, in collaboration with representatives from other FBOs, was responsible for brainstorming on all the areas that require intervention to support gender equality and suggesting suitable interventions and activities needed and best approaches. The young people actively engaged the faith leaders and negotiated great opportunities for the young people.

The involvement of the young women also brought about the idea of establishing a WhatsApp hotline for harassment and violence complaints. The church is working to set it up by early 2024. A young woman and a young man under the YW4A programme will operate the hotline.