Pers.Jurid: 199/1970


 Egyptian Women Lay Claim to Revolutionary Role

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Women who have been joining the Egyptian protests to oust Mubarak minimize the risk that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could dominate a future government. If the revolution succeeds, they look forward to playing a part in the transition.

(WOMENSENEWS)--For Egyptian women in the March of a Million and other street protests to oust authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak, the sometimes deadly demonstrations have been a show of force.

"Women are key actors in this historical moment of Egypt," Mozn Hassan, executive director of the Cairo-based Nazra for Feminist Studies, wrote Women's eNews at 5 p.m. on Feb. 2, moments after the Egyptian army fired warning shots in Cairo in a bid to break up violent clashes. "Women are giving a statement that they are working closely with men to change Egypt."

Azza Soliman, at the Center for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance, is one of many activists underscoring the interreligious and national character of Egypt's unrelenting pro-democracy rallies.

"I want you to know that during the past demonstrations not once has there been an Islamic slogan," she said in a Feb. 2 email. "None of the opposition leaders would attribute this revolution to himself as we witness a popular uprising by the youth of Egypt, which are regular citizens oppressed by Mubarak's regime for 30 years."

Soliman added the movement's leadership is aware and confident in putting together a national coalition to reform the Egyptian constitution and uphold the principles of citizenship and establish a civil state in Egypt.

Women's stance at Tahrir (Liberation) Square in central Cairo and their presence in protests across the country is also making an online splash. Women of Egypt, a Facebook group, created a photo gallery to document women's role at the historic hour.

The call for democracy not only crossed gender lines, it is also changing street conduct. Nazra for Feminist Studies' Hassan highlighted that women had been able to protest freely without men to protect them and without confronting the usual sexual harassment rampant on Cairo's streets.

"Egyptians citizens gave a message of civility," she said. "During all the last days, no single sexual harassment incident occurred and people were aware of that."

On Feb. 1 women were widely visible on TV; donning sunglasses, hijabs and burkas, wardrobes that mirror the colorful fabric of Egyptian society. Mothers betting on the movement's success brought their daughters out to the streets hoping to witness the coming dawn of democracy.

While the protests have at times turned dangerous and deadly, the unified stance taken by men and women brought a sense of relief to Hibaaq Osman, founder and CEO of Karama (Dignity), a coalition of partners building a movement to end violence against women in the Middle East and North Africa.

In a blog post early on Feb. 2, she wrote proudly about the high turn out of women in the previous day's demonstration.

"Amidst the chaos…we have seen people of all backgrounds, religions, and occupations come together. But more than this, we have watched as men and women dissolved the gender barrier that has long been held between them."


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