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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
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 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 Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid