Fourteen young workers and leaders of YCW Egypt gathered in Alexandria from August 31 to September 2, 2017 to live together and discuss their future. There were 10 young men from el Khranfish base group working in different sectors such as tuk-tuk drivers, gold makers, shop workers, and factory workers, three young women from El Sagood base group who work in the service sector as teachers and nurse in a private institution, and one person from El Osairin base group who is a student. They have been supported by former YCWers and collaborators.
Through the YCW methodology, young workers were able to analyze their past and current reality and to discover their own future. In the “see” part, they were tasked to draw what their future could be. Most young workers found it difficult because they do not have the luxury to draw on the past and some of them have no future prospects.
Many young workers in Egypt are struggling in their daily life and at work. They are facing precariousness and insecurity, low wages, long working hours and informalization. Some haven’t even finished school and went to work at an early age and migrated to Cairo, the capital of the country, due to lack of job opportunities in the countryside. Women remain vulnerable and are often subject to attacks, sexual harassment and discrimination.
It is clear that their reality is in contradiction with the simple dreams they want. Some have expressed their wish to have their own small shop or business, to have their own family, some want to be a fashion designer, a football player, and some want to save money to travel the world and have their own place to live in.
Filling the gap between realities and dreams, members and leaders tried to discover the causes of these realities together. They found out that the economic situation in Egypt is not helping young people to have decent work and life, or to plan for the future as they do not have enough money to save. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting higher every day and young people are always controlled by the opinion of the masses even if it is not what they want for their life. On the other hand, three years are wasted in the lives of all young men because military service is mandatory in the country.
Young workers have little chance to save money for their future, some tend to become lazy and they do not know what they want and lose the will to do something, and some get married at a young age to escape reality, having not realized that marriage life is not at all the solution to all their problems.
Egypt YCW members made a commitment to be more optimistic, to be more determined to achieve their dreams. They cannot change the whole society at once but they know that they can always change themselves, like Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
In conclusion, the three-day workshop did not only discuss about the future of work and young workers’ lives, but it helped them to know each activist’s dream and reality and to build the movement of young workers in Egypt.