Arab Women in Revolution: Reports from the Ground

Part: 18

Cairo Women Stunned by Male Harassment at Protest

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Women's rights organizers in Cairo suffered a setback on International Women's Day on March 8. Instead of holding a large rally in Tahrir Square, they were beaten back by hundreds of antagonistic men.

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Watching the New Constitution

Hoda Badran, chairperson of the Alliance for Arab Women, a women's right group based in Cairo, says keeping women's issues on the radar is not enough. Specific amendments to the constitution and electoral law need to be enshrined to ensure women get an opportunity to participate in the new government.

"We have to be careful because many times women participate in the first part of the revolution and then after it's finished, the women are pushed back. So we are formulating groups of women and coalitions to demand to be part of everything," said Badran. "We were upset because the committee formed to change the 10 articles of the constitution did not have any women."

She says one way to do this is voting by political party lists that include at least one female candidate for each position.

She also supports keeping the women-only parliament seats, introduced during last year's parliamentary elections under the Mubarak regime, for at least two terms to help increase women's political participation.

Badran said there are more groups and nongovernmental organizations devoted to women's issues in Egypt than ever before, but bringing about change won't be easy because there are still many people who feel women are not suited to leadership positions.

"The political scene has many obstacles that do not allow women to win in election campaigns," she said. "We are (hoping) that the new constitution will take into consideration that equality will permeate all articles . . . We will have to be careful that the next parliament will include very qualified women."

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Jessica Gray is a Canadian journalist reporting on the Middle East from Cairo, Egypt.

For more information:

Human Rights Watch Egypt:
http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/egypt

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