This article analyses the drivers, mobilizational tactics and manoeuvrings of informal, youth-led initiatives that emerged in post-Mubarak Egypt to counter the growing threat of sexual violence against women in public spaces. The findings are based on empirical research into youth-led activism against gender-based violence during 2011?2013.
The approach adopted is a case study of three initiatives, Bassma (Imprint), Shoft Taharosh (Harassment Seen) and Opantish (Operation Anti Sexual Harassment). Informal youth-based initiatives in the context of the post-January 2011 uprising have generally been criticized for their lack of sustainability, organizationally and politically. However, the examination of activism against gender-based violence through the lens of prefigurative politics shows the inherent value of experimentation and its contribution to innovations in public outreach.
The value of the initiatives studied in this article also lies in their mobilizational power which inadvertently produces ‘repertoires’ of knowledge, skills and resources to engage the citizenry and capture their imagination. In the long run, such repertoires may allow for the emergence of organized and sustained forms of political agency.