Ghada Darwish – Engineer, Egypt
1. Were women’s roles in the Arab Spring more or less meaningful than men’s roles?
Women’s roles in the Arab Spring have been more or less equal to that of men! Egyptian women have been strongly active from the very beginning of the uprising, ranging from the video published by Amaa Mahfouz on YouTube that moved masses of people to go down the streets to call for their rights, the women who spent days and nights in the cold weather occupying the square in tough and insecure conditions, to the older women who couldn’t survive for long in the square yet helped providing food and medical supplies to those in the square. I don’t want to exaggerate, but Egyptian women really surprised everyone, and in some cases proved stronger than men!
2. Have the revolts of the Arab Spring improved the position of women’s rights in the region?
Although women played a major role in the revolt of the Arab Spring, I am very concerned that women’s rights are the last to be considered (in Egypt). It also worries me that many of the rights gained lately are being linked to the old regime! On the other hand, the fact that only 10 seats in the parliament are taken by women proves that the majority of Egyptian didn’t trust a woman to represent them, which is ALARMING!!
3. How can the women of the Arab Spring turn this activism into long-term/sustainable gains?
Unless women stand really strong by means of collective action, supporting each other and those who are blinded by lack of education and social constraints, women will be pulled backwards and it will take us too long to recover. Hundreds of years ago, Egyptian women proved strong enough to gain their rights, but in light of poor education, things have been changing. Now, after this revolution, those strong women who have taken the initial steps (in terms of politics, business, etc.) should support and mentor other women in order to get them to know their rights and capabilities and move together to dictate their rights, and not wait for the government to give some attention to women and their rights!!
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