This paper examines the nature of the political struggle over the status, role and identity of women in Egypt in between the two revolutions (January 2011 and June 2013). It presents a situational analysis of the various actors, relations and agendas that have both informed the backlash against women’s rights and the mass movements of resistance. It acknowledges that while women’s rights have historically suffered as a consequence of a hostile political will of the ruling authority and parts of political and civil society that are inimical to expanding women’s rights (and sometimes mobilise around revoking what already exists), women’s rights faced new threats after January 2011 because of the political settlement between the Supreme Council for Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood. The threats to women’s rights worsened under President Morsi’s regime and while they were not the prime reason why women mobilised in the largest numbers ever to oust the president in June 2013, encroachments on their freedoms was a catalysing factor.
محمد براهمي، السياسي القومي اليساري الذي اغتيل خارج منزله يوم الخميس الماضي، ولد في سيدي بوزيد، المدينة نفسها التي أضرم فيها بائع فاكهة يائس النار على نفسه في ديسمبر 2010، فأشعل الثورة التونسية وأشعل معها العربي الربيع. وجهت أصابع الاتهام في مقتل السيد براهيمي إلى لحزب النهضة الإسلامي، الذي يحكم تونس، كما أتهم الحزب نفسه سابقا بتورطه في عملية اغتيال المناضل الحقوقي اليساري البارز شكري بلعيد منذ ما يقرب من ستة أشهر على يد مهرب أسلحة شاب كانت لديه علاقات مع تنظيم القاعدة في بلاد المغرب الإسلامي .
As a young Egyptian woman who participated in the revolution and who has been involved with several women’s groups and initiatives that have proliferated during the past two years, I do not wish to talk about how great the participation of Egyptian women was during the revolution, how they were marginalized afterward, or how they faced violence and a setback in political rights and freedoms despite their numerous contributions. These are all issues that I am sure can be addressed by experts in a more holistic and professional way.
In November 2011, after I joined a protest on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo with a friend, Egyptian riot police beat me – breaking my left arm and right hand – and sexually assaulted me. I was also detained by the interior minister and military intelligence for 12 hours.
After I was released, it took all I had not to cry when I saw the look on the face of a very kind woman I'd never met before, except on Twitter, who came to pick me up and take me to the emergency room for medical attention. (She is now a cherished friend.)
Marieme Helie Lucas is an Algerian feminist, sociologist, political theorist and author known for her work against religious fundamentalism. Marieme was born in Algeria to a ‘family of feminists’ and had been active in the liberation struggle of Algeria. She founded the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) in 1984. The former international coordinator of WLUML, Marieme founded Secularismis a Women’s Issue (SIAWI) in 2005.