Women’s rights champion is shortlisted in British Council Awards

  • Date

    Wed 22 Jan 20

Reem Elmeleegy British Council Finalist

An Essex graduate who has dedicated her career to advocating for women’s rights is on the shortlist for a prestigious alumni award.

Reem Elmeleegy, who completed a MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights at Essex, is a finalist for the Social Impact Award at the British Council Study UK Alumni Awards 2020 in Egypt.

She said: “I feel extremely grateful and proud at the same time. Managing to complete my masters degree was a tough and long journey, so becoming a finalist is so rewarding.”

From an early age, Reem has always been concerned with the difference in rights and opportunities for men and women, which led her to focus on women’s rights, human rights and feminism in her education and career.

Reem, who studied at Essex in 2017, said her degree helped her realise her goals.

She said: “I enjoyed the diversity of my class and the University and the opportunities given to us beyond academia. My masters degree helped me focus more on the field of choice, gave me more learning opportunities and space to have discussions; which helped me grow in many ways.”

Reem is currently working in South Sudan as a women's protection officer. Her role is to help empower women to take leadership roles and get involved in decision making processes in their own communities.

Within her role, she has helped to launch a group of teams who work to increase awareness of women’s issues such as gender-based violence, early marriage and the importance of education in the communities.

Reem says her UK education has broadened her horizon and developed the skills to deal with all kinds of adversity.

“The UK was very important in strengthening my personality and opening my horizons through living and learning in multicultural environments. Every day was a lesson of acceptance and also good practice on how to lead your life on your own terms and seek your future goals.”

If she could see one big change in the world, Reem would like to see cultures and laws change globally to honour womens’ rights, represent women in all fields and create an environment less tolerant to violence against women.

She said: “I am inspired by women who broke taboos, and managed to prove themselves despite all odds. Also, by women who support other women to grow and find their space.”

“If I could choose one motto to live by, it would be ‘Women's rights are Human rights.’”

The British Council Study UK Alumni Awards 2020 awards ceremony in Egypt will take place in Cairo on Wednesday 22 January.