Arab Women in Revolution: Reports from the Ground

Part: 8

Egypt's Feminist Union Undergoing Reincarnation

Monday, January 30, 2012

The venerable Egyptian women's rights advocacy, the Egyptian Feminist Union, is coming back to life amid a flowering of civil-society groups. But the road ahead isn't clear for a long-dormant organization that operated under British colonial rule.

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Only 1 Percent

Women make up only 1 percent of parliament's 500 or so members. No women are in charge of running the country's almost 30 governorates.

Badran hopes to change these trends, but knows it will not be easy since the union's new status is still in its infancy.

Its first project focused on encouraging women to vote or run in Egypt's first parliamentary polls, just completed, since the fall of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

Mohamed Zaree, a program manager for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, says the recent parliament elections make it a good time to refocus on women's issues and to bring human rights to the table.

"Now is the time for that conversation because the members of parliament are [accountable] to voters and could play an active role in the promotion of human rights," Zaree says.

While it looks for funding, the union has been planning its activities from the Alliance for Arab Women's office in downtown Cairo. It is set to hold a women's forum in the next few months to gather groups and discuss its future as Egypt takes its first steps toward democracy.

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

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