Sarah Othman – Revolutionary, Egypt
1. Were women’s roles in the Arab Spring more or less meaningful than men’s roles?
The Arab Spring was not a rat race; it was a war against injustice, poverty and tyrants. So you can say men and women were completing each other. Regardless of the circumstances, we (women) are everywhere in the Middle East. Let me tell you my own experience in Egypt: you can see Egyptian women everywhere, shoulder by shoulder with men at squares, in protests, supplying others with all what they need such as food, drinks and medical supplies. You can see women at the front line at Mohammed Mahmoud, or in sit-ins in Tahrir, Alexandria, Delta of Egypt and even in Upper Egypt.
2. Have the revolts of the Arab Spring improved the position of women’s rights in the region?
Women are doing their best to improve their position and, after the revolution, women have gone a long way to gain more rights. The best example for this was Tawakkul Karman, the Nobel prize winner. The participation in the Arab Spring was very sensational, very touching and very effective – that’s why we gained so many rights. I can now walk in the streets feeling dignity surrounding me. But we still have so many rights to work on and to gain, especially after the parliamentary elections that brought Islamists to the scene.
3. How can the women of the Arab Spring turn this activism into long-term/sustainable gains?
Concerning sustainable gains, women should go along for their quest to gain more and more rights;we should have a well-prepared agenda. And, the best thing that will make our gains sustainable is getting rid of old thoughts and getting as many women educated as we can. The more educated women you have in the region, the more sustainable rights they can gain.
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