Research Student: Mostafa Attia
Revolution, global development and disability politics in Egypt
Over the past few years, Egypt has experienced extensive changes in its political arena. This has meant that its country development plans, policies and social contexts have been impossible to study in isolation from those changes.
The research question is: “To what extent has the Egyptian Revolution paved the way for more sustainable and inclusive development to benefit disabled people in Egypt?”
The study will investigate the effects and consequences that the 25th January 2011 Revolution and relevant political events had on disabled people, disability policies and development practices in Egypt.
It is also concerned with the impact of the revolution on the development of the disability movement particularly disabled people’s organizations (DPOs).
In light of the changes wrought by this Revolution, the research will consider how the global move from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will guide policy makers in the post-revolutionary period to use mechanisms for inclusivity.
Also, whether there are any lessons learned from promising practices in other African countries to develop a better approach for Inclusive Development within the Egyptian context. Although there is a lot of literature on the Egyptian revolution, disability and development in their own contexts, combining these three main concepts will underpin these recommendations as to how disabled Egyptians can benefit from the application of inclusive development within national strategy. At the global level, ongoing discussions about the SDGs and their implementation makes the study topical. It could be an original piece of research to utilise these goals, and consider the Egyptian revolution within the framework of disability.
The methodology of this study will include semi structured interviews and participant observations. The interview participants will be Egyptian politicians and Disabled People Organization (DPO) representatives, while observations will include four Egyptian development projects and four cases from other African countries.
I am originally from Egypt and lived there most of my life. I am a disabled person who graduated from the Faculty of Arts (English Department) at Helwan University, Cairo.
I obtained my Masters degree on disability studies from the School of Sociology at Leeds University in 2009. Also, a diploma on Public Policy and Child Rights from the Faculty of Political Science, Cairo University in co-operation with Erasmus University, Netherlands in 2012.
I have worked for more than 10 years at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (policy making organization) in which I participated in designing a disability chapter in the new Egyptian Child Law (2008) as well as implementing some pilot projects related to children with disability in cooperation with international organisations and in partnership with NGOs.
I also was a board member for the National Council for Disability Affairs, under the auspices of the Prime Minister, 2012 to mid-2015. I managed an NGO called Ahl Masr, working in both the children’s health sector as well as rehabilitating the recently disabled youth back to the employment market.
Finally, I conducted some consultancies with many international organisations delivering either training or studies on various subjects related to disability rights.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
Since I obtained my MA in Disability Studies from the University of Leeds, I thought that a PhD in this field, with its more interdisciplinary approach, would improve my knowledge in the field of disability & development. It also introduces me to many theories and ideologies regarding this topic. I further see this as an opportunity to use and develop my skills of reading, writing and critical analysis.
The PhD will give me the chance to interact with the topic on a global basis. As an activist who has worked in this field for many years, the PhD will offer an innovative academic slant. The processes of data generation, choosing appropriate methodology, transcription, data analysis and the project write-up will enhance my existing skills in conducting any requested baseline studies, consultancies and research opportunities, better enabling me to co-operate with different agencies.
As disabled Egyptians suffer from the lack of a basic service, unfair distribution of available resources and not being prioritized in the political agenda, undertaking a PhD on disability & inclusive development will hopefully give some recommendations to both disabled activists and policy makers to better include disability in the current Egyptian policies.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
Since I have been disabled since birth and deprived of access to many opportunities because of this impairment, working and studying in the field of disability gave me the chance to develop the community’s awareness and how they viewed disabled people.
My participation in the policy making process in Egypt enabled me to both change and add some subjects to the current laws to improve the quality of life for disabled people. Obtaining a Masters Degree and now studying for a PhD has given me in depth knowledge and more experience in knowing how to respond to disability related issues.
Given the truth that disabled people face marginalization, oppression and neglect within their communities, I am fervent about using my skills and experiences to advocate for them and make a real difference, no matter how small.
What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?
Upon completion of my PhD, I am planning to do the following:
- Work part-time as a Teaching Fellow to transfer the acquired knowledge to students.
- To organise a conference in cooperation with the Egyptian Government and relevant ministries considering the fact that I have good connections with policymakers. This conference will present the findings of my study, the field observations and the work of other Egyptian analysts shedding light in Egypt on worldwide efforts to mainstream disability in the arena of development.
- To prepare an academic monograph based on my PhD dissertation.
- To publish in academic journals.
- Make presentations at international conferences.
- Translate the above works into Arabic.
- To work with International agencies, primarily those dealing with Human Development.