News / Middle East

Egyptian Women Mark Year After Popular Uprising

Egyptian protester wearing Niqab demands resignation of military council chief, Cairo, Dec. 23, 2011 (file photo).
Egyptian protester wearing Niqab demands resignation of military council chief, Cairo, Dec. 23, 2011 (file photo).
Noel King

Egyptian women, embattled for decades under autocratic rule, are among the tens of thousands pouring into central Cairo’s Tahrir Square to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

By early afternoon, Tahrir Square was packed with Egyptian women of all ages and backgrounds. Children stood side by side with their parents and grandparents amid a sea of people waving Egyptian flags.

Seventeen-year-old Israa says that she first marched in Tahrir Square in the first days of the protests.

A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which commanded 47 percent of the vote in the recent lower house parliamentary elections, Israa is thrilled at the direction the country is moving.

"Things are better now for women, that they have more of an opportunity to play a role in society, politics and culture," she says via translator.

Some women in the crowd traveled for hours to take part. Mona Mohammed, from southern Egypt, says what impresses her most is that Egyptians seem to be acting in unison.

"We’re all standing together as one people," she says. "We’re all calling for our rights together as Egyptians."

But some women say reforms have not gone far enough. Throughout the morning, several speeches from "mothers of the martyrs" -- a group of Egyptian women whose sons died during last year’s anti-government demonstrations -- noted the lack of change under military rule since Mubarak's fall. Some speakers accused the military council of using repressive and violent tactics of the Mubarak era.

In late December, video showed female protesters being beaten, chased and stripped by black-clad riot troops during clashes between pro-democracy activists and Egyptian security forces. In one iconic scene, a woman is shown being stripped of her black veil and kicked in the stomach by the forces.

Since then, thousands of women have marched in Cairo demanding an end to violence against women.

On Wednesday, Nurhan, a student who declined to give her last name, carried a sign that said, “from January 25th 2011 to January 25, 2012, nothing has changed.” When asked if things are in any way better, she said that, at least for now, women can publicly campaign for their rights.

But activists say a push for increased rights for women has been sidelined as the country takes its first steps toward democracy.

Although women’s rights supporters saw some success late last year when an Egyptian administrative court banned so-called "virginity tests," which were reportedly performed on 17 women who were detained in the early days of the protests.

On the political front, only about eight women were elected to the new Egyptian parliament, just two percent of its powerful lower house.

Conservative Islamist candidates from the Salafi Nour party had greater success, capturing about 23 percent of the vote. Some women fear the Salafis want to undermine gains made by women and force them out of the workplace and into the home.

Israa, the high school student, says she’s not too worried, though. One of the first things she’d like to do after graduating is run for a seat in the emerging democratic parliament.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid