Gameela Ismail is an Egyptian politician and media figure.
A defender of freedom of opinion and expression, the rights of prisoners, workers, the poor and the oppressed, Gameela Ismail courageously fought against injustice, corruption and tyranny in the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. She was one of the most prominent women in confronting inherited succession and extension of powers, in calling for the January 25 Revolution, and in pushing for the revolution’s continuance in the subsequent years to achieve the aims of the revolution and retribution for the martyrs.
Born in 1966 in Cairo Qasr el Nil district, Gameela Ismail studied in Al Gezira Language School in Zamalek, where she currently lives. She graduated in 1986 from the Cairo University Faculty of Mass Communication. After being selected university rover scout crew leader, she distinguished herself in her activities in the student union throughout the years of study.
She obtained a Diploma in Simultaneous Interpretation from the American University in Cairo, and then chose to work in media and journalism as a correspondent for various foreign magazines and papers in Cairo. She moved into Egyptian television, reflecting the realities, pain, and dreams of ordinary people through her work as a presenter in a number of programs reporting from the street.
In 1994, she began working in local public service through an NGO in downtown Cairo. The residents in Darb el Ahmar, el Mosky, el Gamaliya, Bab el Sha’riya, el Zaher, and Manshiet Nasr repeatedly honored her for her sincere efforts over ten years in providing housing, healthcare, and education services, and in working with local popular committee members to address the neighborhood residents’ problems.
In 2001, she ran for office in the Shura elections, amid large celebration and popular support from Cairo downtown residents, recognizing her dedication in providing real services, running against the the majority leader in the ruling party at that time.
In 2003, she participated in founding the Ghad Party.
In 2004, she became a member of the Ghad Party’s high council.
In 2005, she led a media campaign for the party's candidate in the presidential elections.
From 2004 to 2010, she participated in national struggle to free prisoners of conscience, prisoners of opinion, and political detainees, and participated in campaigns calling for the ousting of Mubarak and for rejecting inherited succession and extension of powers, confronting tyranny and corruption, defending freedom of opinion and expression. She became an active member in most social protest movements calling for change, along with national currents and powers (Kefaya, Egyptian Women with Change, Madaneya, National Association for Change).
In 2010, she ran in parliamentary elections against one of the most important figures in the dissolved National Democratic Party.
In January 2011, she was among those who called for the January 25 Revolution, led marches to Tahrir Square and protested in sit-ins until the fall of the regime.
In June 2011, she emerged as one of the most important political analysis program presenters on television, through her weekly program "E'aadet Nazar.”
In November 2011, she ran again in the first post-revolution parliamentary elections, running for an individual seat in the downtown Qasr el Nil district, independent of any party or political current, and won almost 30,000 votes, coming in just 100 votes less than the Freedom and Justice Party and Egyptian Bloc candidates.
In 2011, Gameela Ismail figured among the 150 most influential people across the world according to a Newsweek/Daily Post poll, and one of the top four women in the “Sisters of the Arab Spring” on BBC television.
In the Spring of 2012, she participated in the founding of the Dostour Party, founded and led by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradai. She has been a member of the committee of one hundred, a leading member in the steering committee, and head of the party’s organizing secretariat in April 2013.
In March 2013, she directed a message to John Kerry during a meeting with him in Cairo, which was picked up by the media, requesting him to stop supporting former president Mohamed Morsi, saying, “You want democracy for us in a shape and size defined by the American administration, but we Egyptian people are building democracy on the imagination and dreams of the January 25 Revolution, and we will show you that we are capable of revolution again.”
In May 2013, she participated in the call for June 30, and led party marches to the Presidential Palace.
In January 2014, she was nominated for the position of Dostour Party president, to succeed Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, heading the list "Elbaquaa' le mann yabny," which means “those who build persevere.” After a mission building the party, she held an active leadership role from April to December 2013.
From 2011 - 2014, she has played a prominent role in the struggle to complete the revolution in Egypt, defending its aims and goals through her political action, support and contribution in a number of revolutionary protest movements, a role which continues to date.
Gameela Ismail in the Dostour Party
Gameela Ismail participated in the establishment of the party since its inception, as founding member in the one hundred member founding committee, then in the steering committee, and in most of its activities from its announcement in Spring 2012 to date.
In April 2013, Gameela Ismail headed up the organizing secretariat of the Dostour Party, commissioned by party founder and former president Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, after disagreements caused large rifts in the party leadership in various regions and centers. These led to repeated sit-ins and anger among the bases, with calls to establish democratic and transparent provisions for decision-making and selection of local leaders and executive offices.
Despite the difficulties of the task, she courageously took on the responsibility and rebuilt the organizing secretariat anew. Together with the organizing secretariat members' dedicated efforts, her success in achieving this was a huge accomplishment, in light of the difficult conditions that the party and country were going through, the problems between the members and leadership, and the series of difficult events in the country from April 2013 to January 2014.
The organizing secretariat announced six- and nine-week plans to rebuild party member trust. This was accomplished in the timeframes laid out, by establishing election principles and procedures in the governorate secretariats where they had not been structured, or in which they were subsequently being challenged. Elections were held in Alexandria, el Sharqia, Monoufiya, Aswan, and Beheira; partial elections were held in Cairo, Giza, and Alminya. A total of 1174 candidates competed, with more than 350 officials being seated across all governorates, through free and direct elections.
A neutral committee was charged with making a determination on the appeal challenges that members had previously presented on the secretariat structures. The organizing and holding of elections played a role in re-organizing the party in the various governorates, and putting an end to the problems and conflicts among the members. These elections were key in getting the party ready to have impact and presence on the street and in various media outlets, and to re-draw the party’s image in the eyes of the citizens.
In the subsequent nine-week plan, the organizing secretariat began building the secretariats, training the secretaries of the organizing and membership across the country, and providing them with technical capacity. It then built up the party database with a full inventory in all founder delegations, entering them in the new advanced and centralized database with innovative mechanisms to make founder and member data more complete. This process has increased the amount of information in the database by 180%.
In the beginning of June, the organizing secretariat began fixing the membership cycle and producing membership cards, for the first time in the party after a year of not doing so. It provided the materials, machines, and accessories needed to issue membership cards, designated an administrative team to the membership committee, and coverage of full cycle expenses for an average of 1600 membership cards per month.
The organizing secretariat contributed to opening and continuing a number of new party headquarters, and to overcoming many of the crises that several secretariats were going through across the country.
At the request of the election oversight committee appointed by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the organizing secretariat exerted great effort across the country in record time, to prepare and submit the database of associate and active members, in accordance with the announced standards and regulations, so to be used in the preparation and oversight of the general conference. It was submitted in electronic and hard copy to both the higher governing council and the general conference oversight committee on 14/11/2013, in fulfillment of the timetable commitments required to convene the first general conference.
The data was submitted in four lists: 1) founders who had paid their subscriptions and membership dues, 2) founders who had not yet paid them, 3) associate members whose membership had been transferred to active membership, and 4) associate members. The organizing secretariat requested the high elections committee to announce a disclosure period for challenge and appeal, and for all to participate in making any additions or deletions, so to attain the most accurate voter base and to overcome any human error that may have occurred when entering mass amounts of private data.
On November 14, in her remarks upon submitting the database, Gameela Ismail requested that the new bylaws be approved before opening elections procedures.
Directly upon completion of the tasks with which she had been charged, and upon which the party’s first general conference depended, Gameela Ismail gave notice to the party president, his deputies, and the general secretary to freeze her position as organizing secretary, pursuant to the high commission resolution in the event of party executive and leadership holders being nominated for open positions in the general conference elections.
In January 2014, Gameela Ismail announced her candidacy for the position of president, heading the list "Elbaquaa' le mann yabny,” which means “Those who build persevere.”
Between 2012 and 2014, Gameela Ismail has participated in most of the party’s mass actions, constitution article awareness campaigns, calls for marches 30/06/2013, and Shura council demonstrations on the anti-demonstration law and the articles on military trials. She submitted herself to the public prosecutor office as one of those calling for the release of detainees imprisoned on pending demonstration cases.
She took on legal and humanitarian follow-up for party member detainees, working for their release and accompanying family members visiting them.
From 2013 to 2014, through her field visits, conferences, and appearances on numerous media outlets, Gameela Ismail has contributed significantly to overcoming the difficulties and challenges that the party has experienced since its inception, from the departure of its founder, to confronting smear campaigns and the subsequent blows to which the party was exposed. She has been a moral and political support to the membership base across the country.