Arab Women in Revolution: Reports from the Ground

Part: 17

Male Domination in Egypt is Only Half a Revolution

Monday, March 14, 2011

Egyptian women fought for the overthrow of Mubarak alongside men. But now the male-domination of transitional politics is like going backwards, writes Nadya Khalife of Human Rights Watch.

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Some Measures Taken

The Mubarak government took some measures to include women in the political process and public life.

It reserved 64 seats for women in the People's Assembly, the lower house of parliament, but women were left out of the Shura Council, parliament's consultative body. A small number of women were appointed to judgeships, but women are not represented on the boards of professional syndicates or trade unions, despite being active in the labor movement.

The participation of women, on an equal footing with men, should be an indispensable part of Egypt's transition to democracy. Much more needs to be done as the government evolves to secure women's participation. Egyptian women's rights activists sense a need to seize this opportunity to call loudly for women to be included in all aspects of the transition.

There are real risks that women will be left on the sidelines, without a voice and unable to help shape a transition to a democratic Egypt.

The stakes are high.

The country could be on the threshold of a social and cultural revolution that will transform the lives of women and men. Or events may pass women by altogether, leaving us again on the fringes of society.

There is no better time than right now for men and women to sit down together at the table and make decisions about a new Egypt. The chants of "hurria, hurria" (freedom, freedom) should mean freedom for all--and equality should be at the heart of these calls.


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Nadya Khalife is the women's rights researcher for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch.

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Cairo Women Stunned by Male Harassment at Protest

I wish great success to the women of Egypt.


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