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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs