In recent decades unearthing women’s voices through oral histories has led to the revisiting of both women’s history as well as history in general. By prompting us to seriously reconsider our history, revisiting women’s narratives can thus lead us to reconsider many of our assumptions about the past and the future.
Research in oral history provides knowledge and reflection which has proved of vital importance for women’s organizations around the world. Documenting Egyptian women’s life stories may empower women to gain their rights and improve their life conditions. Despite the recent resurgence of interest in oral histories elsewhere, however, only a relatively small number of oral history projects exist in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The Women and Memory Forum seeks to fill this gap by providing resources for the wider community of researchers, activists and students through the establishment of an Oral History Library. In the first phase of this project approximately 100 oral interviews were conducted with women over 75 years of age who played prominent roles in public life. These narratives provided the research team with the necessary preliminary data to re-examine the parameters of the project as well as define some of its likely cultural outcomes. In the second phase of the project, the group redefined its target group of interviewees using a thematic approach.
In line with this project, in light of recent political events, and towards the long term aim of supporting and empowering women politically, the WMF has started a large documentation project about the participation of women of different ages in the public sphere. This project documents and records the impact of events in Egypt since the outbreak of the revolution of January 25, 2011. WMF researchers have conducted a large number of interviews with women activists, collecting their stories and experiences during a distinctive time of wide-scale political change. We have also launched a digital archive of oral history which contains these interviews. This is constantly being updated. Please click the link below to view the archive: