Safe World for Women Logo

Free Reeyot

Grassroots Voices

Bukanda-Isaac-2

Grassroots Men and Children Speak Out - Women's Empowerment is Progress for All!

“COFAPRI is truly giving power to our wives, daughters, and our sisters and girls in our villages here. This helps them primarily, but it also helps us all with our families." - Bukanda Isaac, DR Congo.

Featured

Wurrie-Kenda

Children's Education in Sierra Leone - Overcoming Challenges

Wurrie Kenda has grown up in Kroo Bay without any education. She is now at the Community School and is learning quickly. It is children like Wurrie that make WYCF's school such a special place....

Appeal

DRC-empowerment

Empowering Survivors in DR Congo

Help Safe World Field Partner, COFAPRI, to support rape survivors and their children in the mountain villages of Eastern DR Congo.

World News

Frederic Kazigwemo served time in jail for killing several people in 1994 | Photo: Benjamin Duerr/Al Jazeera

Rwanda genocide survivors back reconciliation

Mbyo is a Reconciliation Village, located one hour's drive from the capital of Kigali. Murderers and survivors of the Rwandan genocide, are neighbors. Attempting to rebuild the country.
Caroline Murphy

UK Heiress walks away from fortune after rift over her plans to turn firm into a co-operative

UK
I have been vocal in my belief that leadership of this business must include those working on the ground if it is to continue to deliver for the clients who have placed their trust in us over the years.
IWMF-logo-3

International Women's Media Foundation: 'Protect Confidentiality of Sources'

IWMF (International Women's Media Foundation) urges the Supreme Court to recognize journalists' protection against compelled disclosure of confidential sources...
Pari Gul

The Afghan policewomen taking on the Taliban

The tiny but growing number of policewomen in Afghanistan not only risk death in the line of duty, they also face personal attack from extremists, and bigotry within the ranks

Field Partner News

Shalom-education

Starting Young - Teaching Children's Rights in Tanzania

We promote Child Rights Clubs in schools, covering issues such as child marriage, FGM, domestic violence, disabilities, street children.... Last year, 7000 children participated...

Alliance News

fly-sister-fly

Partnering for advocacy in rural Kenya

Pastoralist Child Foundation and the Fly Sister Fly Foundation partnered for an advocacy campaign in Samburu County. They held interactive sessions on early marriages, FGM/C, and challenges girls face in the pastoral nomadic community.

Taking it to the Streets: Egyptian women in protest

Egyptian_protestor

Taking it to the Streets:

Egyptian Women Protest the Government Alongside the Men Yet Few Images of Women

Originally published at: The Opinioness of the World - Jan 31st 2011

As I’m sure you all know, Egypt has erupted in a civil uprising. The largest anti-government protest in Egypt in 30 years, civilians are protesting President Mubarak’s regime, calling for his resignation. People have poured into the streets demonstrating, incited by skyrocketing inflation and severe lack of jobs. The world is watching, waiting to see how events unfold. I’ve been scouring the live updates on Mother Jones’ website (a phenomenal source of information to get you up to speed on the protests) and glued to the live stream of Al Jazeera English, the Arabic language news network. While I’ve been watching for the past few days, almost all of the images have been of men in protest. I’ve been wondering, where are the women?

At Double X Jenna Krajeski writes about the numerous women playing a pivotal role in the protests:

“An unprecedented number of Egyptian women participated in Tuesday’s anti-government protests. Ghada Shahbandar, an activist with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, estimated the crowd downtown to be 20 percent female. Other estimates were as high as 50 percent. In past protests, the female presence would rarely rise to 10 percent.”

So if 20-50% of women are protesting, why aren’t we seeing that reflected in the images shown on the news websites and networks? Where the hell are those images??.Woman protester in Egypt

On Facebook, Leil-Zahra Mortada has been compiling photos in an album called the “Women of Egypt,” chronicling women protesting in Egypt.

What accounts for the high number of women getting involved? Krajeski writes,

“The Facebook-initiated groups are unaffiliated with a major opposition group. These protests also seemed safer. Organizers urged those attending to make it a peaceful one, and this became a rallying cry in some areas of the city on Tuesday. Moreover, Egypt’s educated youth, men and women, were fed up with a government that had not changed at all in most of their lifetimes, and which cuts even the educated off from any opportunity. And then there was Tunisia. Suddenly, attending the protest seemed not only worth the risk, but capable of inciting real change.”

Just as women are vital to protests, they’re also crucial in the media as commentators or in political discussions. As Lucinda Marshall, blogger at Feminist Peace Network points out, when Obama talked with advisors, there were no women, not even Hillary Clinton, in the room.· Marshall also points out that on ABC News, Diane Sawyer, Martha Radditz and Christiane Amanpour dissected and discussed the events in Egypt, with no men on the panel:

“Martha Radditz and Christiane Amanpour talking about Egypt with Diane Sawyer on ABC–three women talking about a serious international news story, no men in the room–ten years ago that wouldn’t have happened.”

While policy makers enact laws and treaties, political pundits and reporters shape public opinion. It’s crucial to have women in that conversation, just as it’s important to have people of color weigh in. It’s also important that we try to hear as much as possible from Egyptians and Arabs themselves; one of the reasons I prefer to watch Al Jazeera.Woman protester in Egypt

Egyptian women have a long history of protesting, for at least a century as women protested during the Egyptian Revolution of 1919. Egypt recently made strides towards gender equity (at least appearing to). In 2009, Egypt passed a law reserving 64 Parliamentary seats for women, an increase of 1500%. And while not a panacea for women’s rights, it’s an important step. A more recent example of protesting, in February last year, women and activists in Egypt demonstrated when judges declared that women were not allowed to serve as judges in the Council of State, “an influential court which advises Egypt’s government.” Women have long advocated for their rights.Woman protester in Egypt

People often overlook women in protests or wars, as if they are absent or invisible. Yet women protest, and sometimes fight in combat, alongside men. In many conflicts (and in post-conflict countries too), rape against women is often utilized as a “weapon of war.” But we rarely hear those stories on the nightly news. In the Iranian Revolution in 2009, many women protested, including of course the young woman Neda who was shot and killed as she was on her way to a demonstration, becoming a martyr for anti-government opposition. The protests in Egypt are also not without peril. According to Bikya Masr,

“In the past 24 hours at least 100 Egyptians have been reported to have been killed across the country. The rising death toll is not expected to remain stagnant as more reports are coming in. At least 1000 people, and possibly more, have been injured in the five days of demonstrations that began on January 25.”

Protests have not just arisen in Cairo but throughout cities and towns in Egypt. Al Jazeera, reporting on protests in Alexandria on 1/30 at 12:18pm EST, said that women in the city of Alexandria were headed to the streets, participating in the protests. Interestingly, many of the banners and signs were written in English, not just addressing Mubarak’s regime but also foreign press and Western leaders. Today, Al Jazeera showed images of protesters, many including women.Protesters in Egypt

Democracy Now spoke with Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian feminist and human rights activist, who discussed women protesting alongside the men. She declared,

“Women and girls are, beside the boys, are in the streets. We are calling for justice, freedom and equality, and real democracy, and a new constitution where there is no discrimination between men and women, no discrimination between Muslim and Christians, to change the system and to have real democracy.”

Night after night, women and men have defied the government imposed curfew in Cairo, gathering in Tahrir Square, aka Liberation Square.


A “Million Person March” towards the presidential palace is planned for tomorrow and a nationwide strike planned for Wednesday. Egyptian civilians say they won’t stop protesting until President Mubarak steps down from office. And women in Egypt will be advocating for justice too. But when the media doesn’t show images of women involved, it appears as if they aren’t entrenched in rallying revolutions; they are written out of history. Women don’t merely sit on the sidelines, having their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons wage battle for them. Women confront corruption, fighting for freedom for their country and themselves.

~

With thanks to Megan Kearns for kind permission to reproduce this article.

SOURCE:

The Opinioness of the World

Follow Megan Kearns on Twitter:  @OpinionessWorld