News / Africa

Egyptian Women Contemplate Future Under New Leaders

Women clap and chant as presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh enters the conference hall in Cairo, May 15, 2012 (Yuli Weeks/VOA).Women clap and chant as presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh enters the conference hall in Cairo, May 15, 2012 (Yuli Weeks/VOA).
x
Women clap and chant as presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh enters the conference hall in Cairo, May 15, 2012 (Yuli Weeks/VOA).
Women clap and chant as presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh enters the conference hall in Cairo, May 15, 2012 (Yuli Weeks/VOA).
Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO - Egypt's new political era is inspiring some women to become more assertive of their rights, even as others worry a possible Islamist victory in this week's presidential election might lead to those rights being curtailed. 

Women's rights conference

A recent women's rights conference in Cairo attracted a cross section of Egyptians - Muslims, Christians, leftists and conservatives.

Watch the Video Report

x
Egyptian Women Look at Prospects Under New Leadersi
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Arrott
May 22, 2012 11:27 PM
Egypt's new political era is inspiring some women to become more assertive of their rights, even as others worry a possible Islamist victory in this week's presidential election could curtail them. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.

Watch the Video Report

Organizers of the new “An Egyptian Woman” campaign say they are reaching out to women across economic lines as well, especially to the poor, who often felt disenfranchised by the old government.

“They [i.e., the government] used to buy their votes and we want to teach them to be aware that they are responsible for their country.  They need to know on which criteria to chose their candidate and what does he offer for their future and their children's future,” stated Amani Hassan, conference organizer.

It is a relatively new concept for many in Egypt.  Previous women's rights groups, Hassan says, often were seen as exclusive and largely ineffectual. "The Egyptian women were only from the elite class of the society, she said. "They never felt the problems and daily life struggles of the Egyptian woman at large."

Whether those struggles are set to become greater if an Islamist is elected president is a point of contention.

  • A woman holds a poster for independent Islamist candidate Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, Cairo, Egypt, May 15, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A woman hands out fliers at a women's rights conference that attracted a cross section of Egyptians -- Muslims, Christians, leftists and conservatives. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • It is unclear if the next president of Egypt will help empower women. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Hundreds of women attended the women's rights conference in Cairo. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A woman in a niqab sits below a projected image of one of the conference speakers. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Women clap and chant as presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh enters the conference hall. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Women clap and chant as presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh enters the conference hall. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Women in the audience listen to speakers. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Women listen to speakers. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A volunteer at the conference hands out campaign paraphernalia for presidential hopeful and independent Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A volunteer at the conference hands out campaign literature for presidential hopeful and independent Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. (Y. Weeks/VOA)

Challenging traditional attitudes

Human rights advocates note that Islamist lawmakers have tried to lower the minimum age for marriage and decriminalize female genital mutilation.

Hassan, who supports an Islamist candidate, says she is not worried. "There are extremists, yes.  But I don't think they are a majority and they can't lead the scene in Egypt," she said. " I am sure of this, inshallah [i.e., God willing]."

Whether a new president can counter pressure from fundamentalists is unclear.  The powers of the office have yet to be defined.  But some people at the women's rights conference said the average Egyptian's approach to religion will win out.

Noura Mohamed Ismail is a geographer at Cairo's Ain Shams University.

Ismail says moderate religiosity is best, and that Egypt is a moderate nation.  "Everything in the middle," she adds, "is good."

More than religion, Ismail says she worries about traditional, cultural attitudes toward women in a male-dominated society.

A local worker reinforces her point.

He says it is better for young men to work more than women.  "Women," he says, "should not do more because men are more able than women."

It is unclear whether Egypt's next president will play to such prejudice, or whether women's groups will help replace these views with a message of empowerment.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mandy from: Texas
May 22, 2012 6:48 PM
God Bless to all the women in the world fighting for their rights!!!! They are always in my heart and my prayers!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid