Egypt: Ministry of Education cancels ECWR's celebration of Egyptian women's day

Egyptian Center for Women's Rights
ECWR is deeply saddened and extremely concerned about this cancellation and what it implies about the supposed support of the government for women's empowerment and civil society.
Only hours before our Celebration, the Agouza Student Union called us to cancel the event for "technical reasons." Immediately, we investigated by meeting with authorities at the Student Union, in which the Union's Director revealed that the reasons were for "security."
We then contacted all related security bodies, who denied any connection with the matter and accused the Ministry of Education (MOE), which is responsible for the Student Union. When we approached the MOE for an explanation, it stated that the large number of people planning to attend the event posed a security risk. Security authorities denied this claim.

ECWR has spent an entire month planning this Celebration and exhibition, which was to be attended by 800 women and 25 women's and development NGOs, high profile figures and television and print journalists. The event was planned to raise awareness about Egyptian women's rights and to announce a new draft legislation to increase women's political participation, along with 25 other NGOs.

ECWR considers this move a threat to civil society in Egypt and a contradiction to the alleged partnership between civil society and Egyptian government. Such actions will not stop ECWR from continuing our efforts to empower Egyptian women and in this case we are demanding that the MOE, as the decision-maker and overseer of the Student Union, offer an explanation for canceling this Egyptian Women's Day Celebration and an announcement of who was responsible for this decision.

We strongly announce our objection to this action and have already complained to the National Council for Women and the National Council for Human Rights asking for their support in demanding an investigation of the reasons behind this decision and if this move represents a beginning of new obstacles to civil society in Egypt.

We also express our surprise and disappointment in the MOE, which is responsible for educating Egyptian youth about human rights, democracy, civil society, women's and youths' rights and participation in society. What message are they sending to the new generation if they not only prevent the work of civil society, but refuse to even rent a hall for an event?