A new council for women’s rights was established in Egypt a year after the Jan. 25 2011 revolution. Although it was harshly attacked by political activists for retaining the ideals of the wife of the former dictator, it is an important institution that works to protect the rights of women. It is perhaps the only official institution that attempts to give a voice to women, who are marginalized daily in the new Egypt, with many sectors attempting to sideline them from any vital role either socially or politically.
En Tunisie, en Egypte, en Libye, la conquête fulgurante du pouvoir par des mouvements islamistes, parrainés notamment par les pétromonarchies du Golfe, est sujette à suspicion. Le rapprochement avec l’Algérie est vite fait. L’implication du Qatar dans le soutien aux mouvements islamistes de tous bords (chiites ou sunnites, salafistes djihadistes ou Frères musulmans) ne date pas du Printemps arabe. Le nouveau code électoral et la loi sur les partis en Algérie ont sacrifié l’exigence de transparence des finances des formations politiques.
Women's rights and the regulation of gender and sex norms in the Arab world have long been put under the spotlight by local and international activists in addition to local and international politicians and NGOs. This year, the ongoing uprisings in the Arab world have brought into focus some dominant ways that sexual and bodily rights are framed, gendered, and politicized. These can be grouped under three loose themes, each of which deserves further study: One is the equation of gender with women and/or sexual and gender minorities. Two is the fear of Islamists.
"The power of women is in their stories. They are not theories, they are real lives that, thanks to social networks, we are able to share and exchange," said Egyptian-American activist Mona el-Tahawey, kicking off a summit that brought more than a hundred of the Middle East's leading female activists together in Cairo.
The Egyptian elections delivered a parliament that has one of the lowest rates of female representation in the world. Yet this is the parliament that expresses the political will of the people of Egypt. It may also be one that ignores the social realities of gender and of women’s political participation, says Hania Sholkamy.
"We are constantly aware of our gender and of being watched and judged because of it, so we end up "performing". But in taking to the streets there are no performative acts and there is no audience. Now I feel that there is no going back, After all, there is no text to follow, and no director. It is as it has always been: us and them", says Zainab Magdy
Despite an increasing feeling of empowerment experienced by many Egyptian women during and after the revolution, they continue to be sexually harassed and abused by men in public on a daily basis, as recent coverage of events in Cairo—from “virginity tests” conducted by the military to male assaults on female protesters—illustrated.
It is a problem that long predates the Arab Spring. In 2008, a survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) found that a staggering 83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women were exposed to sexual harassment in Egypt.
Vigilante gangs of ultra-conservative Salafi men have been harassing shop owners and female customers in rural towns around Egypt for “indecent behavior,” according to reports in the Egyptian news media. But when they burst into a beauty salon in the Nile delta town of Benha this week and ordered the women inside to stop what they were doing or face physical punishment, the women struck back, whipping them with their own canes before kicking them out to the street in front of an astonished crowd of onlookers.