The Status of Egyptian Women in 2011

The Egyptian Women between the Wings of the Revolution and Stripping the Reality
Edited by Nehad Aboul Komsan, Chair of ECWR – Prepared by ECWR Research Unit

Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice were the key words of the 25th of January 2011 Revolution, which was started by the Egyptian youth and later joined by the men and women from all layers of society and walks of life. The Egyptian women in particular amazed the world.
They used social media to spread the word and call people to join the revolution. They participated in protests, often assuming leadership positions despite often instable and dangerous situations. In the revolution’s squares, women’s attendance was overwhelming, where there were cases of women leading with men following. The women participated in
the security of the public committees and volunteered in the field hospitals, expressing their deep dedication to restoring Egypt’s freedom and dignity. During January and February, the number of female martyrs reached 15.
The Egyptian women participated in the various marches in the consecutive waves of the Egyptian revolution, aimed at preserving the spirit of the revolution.
The women suffered great amount of violence but never lost their dedication to the concerns of this nation and hope for better future of the Egyptian people.
The revolution has the potential to break the cultural barriers by creating opportunities for the Egyptian women to change the traditional understanding of the gender roles that has seen them as passive observers rather than active participants and with that change the perception of the nation and the world.
The Egyptian revolution contributed to returning the civilized and humane image of the
Muslim and Arab women in the world, aimed at breaking the stereotypical image of the crushed Muslim women who hid in black clothes (Abaya) behind a man with a white robe.
The Egyptian woman changed the image by herself on the top of list of the most successful women in the world, and honor that has been granted to only few women of the first world and only few women of the “a developing world” have ever been represented.
In the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the American magazine “NewsWeek” announced a list of 150 women form different countries in the world, described as “Women that moved the world”. An international conference was organized from the 10th to 12th of March, 2011 in order to honor these women. This list included four Egyptian women: Dr. Nawal El-Sa’adawy, the female activist, media professional Gamila Ismail, the female activist Salma Sa’aid ,who participated in succession of the 25th January, 2011 revolution and the female activist Dalia Zeyada.
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the British magazine “Gardian” ranked Dr. Nawal El-Sa’adawy as the 16th most important 100 female activist in the world. While
the “Arabian Business” magazine placed Isra’a Abdelfatah, the female Egyptian activist of
the 6th of April movement on the list of 100 most influential women in the Arab World.
The “Arabian Business” magazine recognized Dr. Dalia Mogahed, Egyptian decanted advisor to the U.S President Barack Obama on the Islamic affairs and Muslim community, as the third most influential Arab women in the world out 100.
The magazine explained the crucial importance of the Dr. Mogahed’s role in closing the gap between the West and the Muslims countries, by presenting their traditions and the
concepts that important to their communities.
The EU parliament honored Asmaa Mahfouz and four other activists of the Arab spring with Sakharov prize, which yearly awarded for dedication to the freedom of thinking. It is
considered to be one of the most important international prizes in the field of human rights.
The Egyptian women were presented on the cover pages in the newspapers and world
magazine from the beginning of the year as the revolutionaries. Ironically, the Egyptian
women once again the end of the year was marked with pictures of a young female’s
protestor’s body being dragged naked on the ground, a photo that summed the grim reality
that the Egyptian women live in.
Among the cover pages of the newspapers and magazines in the beginning of the year and
their cover pages in its end, the Egyptian women suffered from the intentional exclusion as a systematic policy to the governments of the post-revolution, the revolution that carved the word “El- Tahrir Square” in all world languages by the Arab words as a synonyms to “the freedom, justice, and equality”.
Is it comes into the Egyptian women’ mind that her situation after revolution will contrary to what she came out of it?!
Is El-Tahrir Square will remain a synonym to “the freedom, justice, and equality”?!
Or the revolution will eat /sacrifice its children and the forefront of them the women?!
In 2011, the Egyptian women has excluded intentionally not only in the political scene, but
from the Egyptian scene in general, The exclusion of women from the leadership positions,
was confined to the ministries of the revolution on a small number of women, the two
ministries of Dr. Essam Sharaf included one woman in each, while the Ministry of National Salvation headed by Dr. Kamal el Ganzory included three women.
The women excluded from the important positions like the governor and the constitution
amendments committee even the discussion on the amendments of the law of parliament
and Shura council , the law of dividing the constituencies which attended by not exceeded
the fingers of one hand within tens of men, who is their decision was disappointing, for
example the law of dividing the consequences has greatly expanded in the constituencies
which causing a great difficulty in the election propaganda, and in the Law of parliament and Shura council canceled the 64 sites which was for women and provided that the list has to included at least one women on each list, but the new law didn’t specify the place of
women on the lists; which led to most of the political forces to put women in a late position
on their lists, So the successful didn’t exceed the number of fingers of the hand.
While the female activists received no small share of the violations of their human rights and their rights in freedom of participate and express their opinion; also Egypt has witnessed for the first time from the military to detect the virginity of the female activists as well as the assault and torture , assignment to military trials and the civil and military Investigations.
This exclusion was accompanied by a hatred campaign to change the Personal Status Code
which some of its articles have equitable for the Egyptian women, in addition to the claims
of the fundamentalist currents, that rose rapidly after the revolution, demanding the return of women to the home and reduce their participation in the society. These claims rose up in the same time of ignoring and ignorance that the return of women to their houses will cause of 32 of Egyptian families which is household by women will day of starvation and setback to the Egyptian economy whereas women represent 23.2% of the official workforce and 70% of the worksorce of the marginal sector.
The ECWR’s report of The 2011 Egyptian Women’s Status addressed the different levels of
women’s situation as follows:

  • First: at the level of the political and decision making
  • Second: Women and the first parliamentary election after the revolution
  • Third: Women in the political parties which founded after the revolution
  • Fourth: Women in the Platforms of the presidential candidates
  • Fifth: Women in the Religious Currents
  • Sixth: Women’s Status at the Social level “Campaign for Changing The Personal Status Code”
  • Seventh: Violence Against the Egyptian Female activists after the revolution
  • Eighth: Violence Against Women at the Workplace
  • Ninth: Problems of The lack of Security and its influence on the violence against women including “the crimes of the domestic violence, harassment, rape, and honor crimes”
  • Tenth: Trafficking in Human
  • Eleventh: Continuation of Women Exploitation as a fuel to provoke the Sectarian Strife
  • Twelfth: The Role of the Civil Society Organizations
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