Dignity by Design: Human Rights and the Built Environment Lifecycle Event Logo

Dignity by Design: Human Rights and the Built Environment Lifecycle

by Public and Community Events

Virtual Webinar Environment Human Rights

Mon, Sep 20, 2021

7 PM – 8:30 PM (GMT+2)

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This session of the Gerhart Center Webinar Series titled "Dignity by Design: Human Rights and the Built Environment Lifecycle" will be in the form of a panel discussion moderated by Professor May El Ibrashy, founder and chair of Megawra-Built Environment Collective, and will feature Annabel Short, senior advisor, Built Environment, Institute for Human Rights and Business and Yahia Shawkat, co-founder of 10 Tooba, a housing and spatial justice research studio.

The webinar will elevate the human rights dimensions throughout the built environment lifecycle. From land acquisition, planning, policy, and finance, through design, construction, and use to re-development, outcomes are determined by the balance of power and responsibilities for decision-making. The webinar will hone in on participation and non-discrimination, the social roles of architects and urban planners, workers’ rights, and the right to housing, among other aspects.

The first part will bring a global overview, while the second part takes a deeper dive into the context in Egypt: highlighting challenges and recommendations for the path forward.

The built environment – the buildings that we live and work in and the infrastructure that surrounds us and that we rely on – has a defining influence on our ability to live lives with dignity. This has become all the more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries rebuild their economies, investments and decision-making relating to the built environment will play a critical role in shaping our ability to address inequality and respond to the climate change crisis. Outcomes will be determined by the balance of power and responsibilities across the built environment lifecycle. To what extent do local communities have agency over what gets built, and how? To what extent are the priorities of women, minorities, and people with disabilities taken into account? To what extent is financial return seen as an end goal rather than a means to an end? This webinar will explore the realization of rights around the built environment lifecycle and make recommendations for the way forward. It will draw on the approach set out in “Dignity by Design: Human Rights and the Built Environment Lifecycle,” touching on universal design, the financialization of housing, and digital rights in the built environment.


May Al-Ibrashy's profile photo

May Al-Ibrashy

Founder and Chair

Megawra-Built Environment Collective

May al-Ibrashy is a licensed architectural engineer with almost 30 years of field experience in conservation and heritage management in Historic Cairo. She is currently founder and chair of Megawra-Built Environment Collective, a twin institution consisting of Egyptian NGO and consultancy working on issues of the built environment. She coordinates Athar Lina, an initiative run by Megawra-BEC in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Cairo Governorate that conserves the heritage of al-Khalifa in Historic Cairo and conceives of it as a driver for community development.  She is also Adjunct Lecturer of Architecture at the American University in Cairo and at Cairo University and Honorary Professor of Practice at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 


Annabel Short's profile photo

Annabel Short

Senior Advisor, Built Environment

Institute for Human Rights and Business.

Annabel Short has two decades of experience advocating for stronger human rights and environmental conduct by business. She has combined international work - leading regional programs with colleagues in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe – with local-level coalition-building in New York City, where she lives in Queens with her husband and two sons.

Yahia Shawkat's profile photo

Yahia Shawkat 


10 Tooba

Yahia Shawkat is an urban researcher and co-founder of the research studio 10 Tooba. He is editor of its Built Environment Observatory, an open knowledge portal advocating housing and spatial justice. Yahia has worked with civil society and international agencies on affordable housing strategies, and is the author of Egypt’s Housing Crisis: The Shaping of Urban Space (AUC Press, 2020). His work includes the Built Environment Deprivation Index (2016), Why do Buildings Collapse in Egypt?(2014), and the Right to Housing Initiative (2013).

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