Ahmed El-Hawary

Ashoka Fellow
Egypt
Fellow Since 2015

Citation

This profile was prepared when Ahmed El-Hawary was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
The New Idea
Ahmed is breaking from the highly centralized, politicized and Cairo-centric mainstream Egyptian media to introduce an alternative community-based media stream to Egypt and the Arab region. Through his organization Bashkatib, an old Ottoman name used in Egypt to denote an enlightened person who serves as a community writer, Ahmed equips networks of youth ages 12-17 in socially, economically, and geographically marginalized areas in Egypt with a comprehensive set of skills and resources to create, manage and sustain community media outlets. These local outlets, owned and run by youth, produce monthly print publications, distributed free of charge in the local area; and simultaneously publish multi-media content on a larger online network –also called Bashkatib-connecting the different community media outlets around the country with one another. While the local news publications create a space for dialogue on relevant issues within the local communities, the online network offers locally produced reporting on local issues to the general public as well as to professionals working in the Egyptian media. The online network generates inter-community dialogue that breaks stereotypes and polarization resulting from economic, social and cultural differences within Egyptian society. Additionally, the online network acts as a space for dialogue between youth journalists, mobilized by Ahmed, working in different local areas to exchange knowledge, ideas and experience.

At the core of Ahmed’s work is identifying, nourishing and encouraging youth from a young age to assume the role of their communities’ leaders and spokespeople, to communicate people’s daily lives and concerns and strengthen inter-community ties and solidarity. Through the community media outlets, Ahmed aims to create non-political and non-confrontational avenue for young people to raise their voices about issues important to them and their communities and hold government leaders accountable. The training and support Ahmed provides to the youth is cultivating future leaders in the fields of journalism and media who perceive a different role for media as a tool to reflect people’s lives and increase their sense of ownership, empowerment and participation rather than mere consumers of information.

Ahmed is expanding his community media movement to other marginalized areas within Egypt and the Arab region while empowering youth to connect along areas of common interest and across cultural divides.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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