09 March 2011

Egypt - a revolution for men?

The Egyptian revolution has captured the hearts and minds of freedom and democracy-loving people around the world. The largely peaceful overthrow of a tyrant with the hope of establishing a democracy is inspiring. It will be less inspiring, however, if it turn out to be a revolution for men only.

Women were in the forefront when the people took to the streets. But now that the tyrant has packed his bags, women, it seems, are being pushed aside. When the military selected a 10-member committee to make constitutional reforms, they selected not one woman. When a new cabinet was sworn in earlier this week, it contained only one woman. Particularly disturbing to many Egyptian women is the return of sexual harassment in the streets, a practice for which Egyptian men are notorious but which seemed to be suspended during the protests. All of this surrounding international women's day is not encouraging for the women of Egypt.

The new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, has announced the creation of a committee to deal with the advancement of women, which is all well and good but does nothing for women now. As one woman remarked, "It's like saying you women can have your little committee while we men do the serious business."

Women nobly set their struggle for gender equality aside while they fought for the political and social rights of all Egyptians.What a betrayal it will be if their political and social rights are now set aside by men.

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