Sunday, March 25, 2012

Egypt: 2,000+ Women march demanding equal rights

The Egyptian Gazette
Egypt's Women demand equal rights

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ashraf Sadek

CAIRO - More than 2,000 feminists, dismayed that Egypt's revolution is failing to advance their cause, marched through Cairo streets and squares Thursday to defend their rights. The women demanded increasing their representation in the People's Assembly and the Shura Council, which has been low.

The marching women demanded the adoption of specific measures to increase their political participation and gender equality after the January 25 Revolution.

"Women should have multiple political roles and must participate in the drafting of the new constitution, " a participant in the rally, marking the World's Women Day, said.

Another participant said that the revolution was stolen by opportunists and all Egyptian women need to unite to secure their rights.

The participants of the rally demanded a new constitution that entrenches gender equality, puts an end to sexual harassment and secures a minimum quota for women in parliament and the cabinet.

Only five women have seats among the assembly's 508 elected and appointed members. In 2010, a year after Mubarak enacted a quota system to expand the female presence, 68 women won parliament seats. For now, only two woman are a fully fledged minister in the government of Kamal el-Ganzouri.

The protesters announced that they would form new advocacy networks to unite women to defend their rights.

They said that women played their part in the 18-day revolution that unseated former president Hosni Mubarak, occupying Cairo's central Tahrir Square day and night and treating the wounded when police fired on protesters.

"Women have choked on tear gas and died in the streets with men," a participant proudly said.

She called for an active promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment in Egypt, demanding the elimination of all forms of gender discrimination.

One of the participants said that World's Women's Day provided a great opportunity for each Egyptian woman to reflect on her responsibility for working towards the eradication of gender inequality.

She said that women must gain significant influence in a new Egypt, revealing the complexities of defining gender rights after the revolution.

The participants of rally expressed fear for their rights after Islamists won parliamentary elections in Egypt. They complained that female representation in parliament fell from 12 per cent during the rule of former president Hosni Mubarak to just two per cent, and a quota that gave women 64 seats was cancelled.

A participant in the rally, which started from the Press Syndicate and marched through the streets, said that women are now confronting attempts to exclude them from public life, as well as acts of discrimination and violence.

"The People's Assembly, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, says a woman cannot become president of the country," one participant said.

The participants agreed that women must be the number one priority for change for Egypt.

"The success of the revolution depends on the education and empowerment of Egyptian women, who are an important part of society,” said a participant, adding that Egyptian women want to make a new Egypt, for themselves and for their fellow citizens.

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