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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid