Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt: what will the uprising mean for women?

One of the first things I think about when I see scenes like those in Egypt and Tunisia at the moment is what the events are going to mean for women in the area. After all, what use is a new Government if it doesn't reflect the hopes and aspirations of all the people? The Huffington Post recently expressed concern that the situation in Tunisia could mean an erosion of women's rights, which are among the strongest in the Arab world.

I had been concerned at the lack of women shown in various news reports, but apparently that is not the case. I've had a brief saunter around the internet and I've found a few interesting articles which I thought I'd share with you.

First of all, there's a new group on Facebook, Women in Egypt, showing photographs of women taking part in the protests.

Anne of Carversville accuses some in the American media of editing out women from their reports:
Women of Egypt are not only participating in the demonstrations but acting as leaders. The American press should readjust the gender lens in which they are portraying the women of Egypt, clearly editing out footage of women in Egypt in action.
Slate says that women are a substantial part of the protests.

Egyptian born, New York based journalist Mona Eltahawy is delighted that Mubarak seems to be on his way out and sees uprising spreading throughout the region as she wrote in yesterday's Observer:
And Arabs from the Mashreq to the Maghreb are watching, egging on those protesters to topple Hosni Mubarak who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, because they know if he goes, all the other old men will follow, those who have smothered their countries with one hand and robbed them blind with the other. Mubarak is the Berlin Wall. "Down, down with Hosni Mubarak," resonates through the whole region.
I wanted to read some more of her writing and found a couple of interesting articles on her website, one where she takes apart a Sunday Times columnist for suggesting that if you're drunk and are raped, it's your fault, and the other where she talks about life as a Muslim feminist where she says:

I'm in a boxing ring. On one side is Bill Keller's right wing: bigoted and xenophobic. On the other side is the Muslim right wing, which uses Islam against me to fuel its misogyny.
I'm a bumble bee who carries ideas — pollen — from one place to another in the hope that they will blossom into a wild and challenging orchard. The pollen might be sweet, but I “sting like a bee” because like the great Muhammad Ali, I will not hesitate to knock you out.
I like her style so I'll keep an eye out for her work in the future.

If you have seen anything interesting about the participation of women in the uprising in Egypt, let me know.

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