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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid