Monday, March 07, 2011

Women Fight to Maintain Their Role in the Building of a New Egypt

Egyptian women were present in large numbers in Tahrir Square, and they seek a role in the building of a New Egypt.
Egypt’s popular revolution was the work of men and women, bringing together housewives and fruit sellers, businesswomen and students. At its height, roughly one quarter of the million protesters who poured into the square each day were women. Veiled and unveiled women shouted, fought and slept in the streets alongside men, upending traditional expectations of their behavior.

The challenge now, activists here say, is to make sure that women maintain their involvement as the nation lurches forward, so that their contribution to the revolution is not forgotten.

Egypt is a step ahead of other popular uprisings in the region, which have had similar bursts of female participation, accompanied by a recognition from men that their support is vital. In Bahrain, hundreds of women wrapped in traditional black tunics stood up to the authorities in the demonstrations against the government, but in a nod to their conservative culture, they slept and prayed outside during protests in a roped-off women’s section. In Yemen, only in the past few days have significant numbers of women started to protest in Sana, the capital, but their numbers were dwarfed by the crowds of men.
...The committee of eight legal experts appointed by the military authorities to revise the Constitution did not include a single woman or, according to Amal abd al-Hadi, a longtime feminist here, anyone with a gender-sensitive perspective.
A coalition of 63 women’s groups started a petition to include a female lawyer on the committee, arguing that women “have the right to participate in building the new Egyptian state.” Ms. Hadi noted that in past Egyptian revolutions, in 1919 and 1952, women’s contributions had been met with similar setbacks....

A coalition including Nawal el-Saadawi, a leading feminist, is planning a million women’s march for Tuesday, with no set agenda other than to promote democracy.
Read it here.



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