MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region
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Meeting to convince the locals of the importance of issuing birth certificates and hence identification cards
Women of Omayed: No Longer Invisible Citizens
Thursday 15 April 2004, by Web Team

One of the major hindrances to community development in Omayed has been the failure of many locals to issue birth certificates for their newly born daughters; thus, depriving them of all citizenry rights, such as education, health-care, pensions, applying for bank loans, joining NGOs or voting. In other words, they are officially non-existent or invisible citizens.

The main reason why Bedouin women suffer this problem, is that conservative Bedouin traditions do not encourage the encryption of women’s names on official documents to be seen by unrelated men. However, other factors also come into play, such as the lack of awareness of birth certificates’ importance or failure to pay the nominal charges.

Realizing the dimensions of the problem, Community Development Advisor Dr. Magda Ghoneim met with the locals to convince them of the importance of issuing birth certificates and hence identification cards. The meetings were successful, as 350 birth-certificate applications were completed by locals.

However, financial obstacles stood in the way of successfully filing these applications; namely, photography cost, administrative costs, and the late registration charge. The project, intent on supporting stakeholders all the way, partially sponsored the administrative costs and successfully lobbied with the government to waive the late registration charge. Furthermore, it secured a photography service for the women of Omayed, most of whom possessed no personal photographs.

Finally, Omayed’s women are now expecting to receive their birth-certificates any minute now. With them, comes their new sense of identity, social integration and solutions to many of their problems.







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