What you made
Through the sale of digital art as NFTs, we were able to free women from prison in Egypt and reunite them with their families.
In Egypt, under Article No. 341, defaulting on a loan is a criminal act that carries a prison sentence.
Because of this every year, tens of thousands of women are sent to prison for taking out small loans to take care of their families. They are known as Al Gharemaat, or ‘The Fined’.
This is a huge national problem that leads to families being torn apart, and these women are either in prison for very long sentences or forced to go on the run to escape incarceration.
The law must be changed to protect these women, and to do this we need to raise awareness not just locally, but globally.
This project was one of logistics. We first needed to connect with real women in Egypt who were in prison or sentenced to go to prison. Through the NGO, ‘Children of Female Prisoners Association’, we were able to discover their stories, which we shared with artists from around the world.
These artists then created pieces of digital art, which were then recreated as NFTs and launched on the Blockchain. Through a social media and PR campaign, we told the world about the plight of Al Gharemaat.
Every year in Egypt there are traditional donation campaigns for Al Gharemaat, but these are very local and do not make a lot of noise. We wanted to create a campaign that would shout loudly, telling the world about the plight of Al Gharemaat.
NFTs are the most trending topic today and a space where people are willing to spend large amounts of money. We thought, why don’t we use them as a brand-new media to raise awareness, and ask people to spend only a few hundred dollars to change the lives of these women.
Prototype and Design
The stories of Al Gharemaat are raw and real and must be dealt with sensitively. We were able to work with truly talented artists, who were able to turn this pain into something beautiful, emotional, and more importantly compelling. Because people are visual, we needed attention-grabbing visuals that spoke to all of these emotions in an instant. What were the most interesting conversations or challenges that emerged at this stage? (could be technical, could be emotional, aesthetic… really, what was the grit in this oyster!?)
Because every day we spend crafting is another day a woman lives in fear, we had a real sense of urgency when it came to creating the NFTs. This is why we partnered with internationally talented artists, who shared our passion and were driven to create poignant pieces of art in a shorter timeline. And what sort of talent/collaborators/specialisms did you have to reach out to and work with at this stage, and what did they bring to the mix?
This campaign was a very collaborative and international process. Every artist was from a different country, so it was important to make sure they really understood the cultural impact of the topic of Al Gharemaat. We also worked closely with the NGO in Egypt, and had to come up with creative solutions with them regarding the issue of cryptocurrency, which was a challenge as it’s still relatively unknown in the country. We also worked closely with our film crew on the ground, they were incredibly dedicated to the cause and travelled into dangerous areas of Cairo to capture footage and interviews with Al Gharemaat to tell the world their stories.
At every stage, every person we worked with not only brought their own unique perspective but there was an absolute dedication to ensuring these women were broken free from their chains.
NFTs are still a relatively new technology, so we had on hand our own NFT expert, who was able to help us navigate the complex world of cryptocurrency and Blockchain. Everything from creating the NFTs to “wrapping the ether” was a whole new way to sell a product for us. There was a degree of trial and error, and a lot of late nights.
We had to test the NFT platforms, so this involved our team launching a few practice NFTs, and selling them to each other to ensure we understood clearly how the platform worked. This was especially important as a key part of our communication to the public was how to buy and NFT.
For me, it was incredibly humbling to see people from around the world come together for a common cause. Without this degree of heartfelt collaboration, I don’t know if we would have been so successful, it really is a testament to the fact that people really do want to help those who are suffering.
This project has brought renewed attention to the issue of Al Gharemaat in Egypt, not only in the region but around the world. Children of Female Prisoner’s Association were able to use this campaign as a platform to take a reform bill to the Egyptian parliament, where they managed to get 60 signatures to agree to change the law. An important first step to really ridding Egypt of this problem.