Anonyme a demandé:
Hello 🙂 I was wondering if you could please suggest any reading on female empowerment in Egypt since 2011? Or the role of women in the 2011 revolution? Thanks so much!
(continued…) Same anon as before (sorry) – Just to clarify about the female empowerment issue in Egypt, everything I’ve come across seems to be written in a very white feminist way, or through the typical prism used to address western concepts of patriarchy in the Middle East, I haven’t been able to find something actually authentic.
Hey! Yes, your inclination to find something that isn’t awful and white feminist is 100% in the right place.
Honestly? There’s not that much great written work out there because international media has sensationalized a non-existent sexual harassment “epidemic” in Egypt, which continuously invisibilizes all the cool things Egyptian women and men have done since 2011 to strive for gender equity. I see very little scholarly work done on Egyptian women’s activism post 2011, BUT there are hundreds of amazing initiatives that you rarely hear about. Some pre-date 2011 but they all really took off after January 2011.
(I want to say briefly: I interviewed most of the following people for my research, and a lot of them said the revolution wasn’t the main catalyst of their post 2011 activism. It’s important to remember that not everything is about the revolution for Egyptian women.)
Here are just a few things that come to mind:
Here’s some background:
Many years ago, 2 AUC students began directing a performance of monologues based on stories of women and their memories and experiences of womanhood. The monologues exposed real women’s stories and provided a space for free expression on controversial issues.
I’ve seen it live and it was phenomenal. It began before the revolution, but it took off with The Tahrir Monologues after 2011 and both projects are coming along wonderfully.
2. “We Will Ride Bicycles”
A group that goes by the name “Tomorrow” organized a bicycle demonstration in Egypt’s Suez on Friday evening where tens of girls biked on the Corniche in defiance of sexual harassment.
A number of men also joined the demonstration in solidarity with the female participants to stress that society must let women go about their daily lives without fear.
“The idea is to revolt against this model imposed on Egyptian women by society since the 70’s where everything outside of it is considered a crime that we have to pay for,” said Coordinator Marwa Radwan.
She pointed out that sexual harassment and verbal and psychological attacks are the society’s way of punishing women and teaching them to take caution with every move they make.
Radwan added that they decided to organize the demonstration after similar attempts in Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said were successful.
The campaign is meant to force passersby to accept women as they go on about their business without fear of attacks or harassment and also to help women regain their confidence.
These PSAs address physical, sexual, and psychological forms of intimate partner violence in contexts extremely relatable to the general Egyptian public.
4. Heya Initiative at AUC –-an amazing undergraduate student group that became the main subject of my research a few years back:
In a male-dominated society, there is a disproportionately small representation of women. In Egypt, women are underrepresented in political and legislative bodies, such as parliament, the judiciary and the Constituent Assembly commissioned to draft the Egyptian constitution. Women also face a variety of obstacles in their day-to-day lives, from finding a job to receiving a high-quality education. In an effort to combat that, a group of students have launched an initiative called Heya (She): The Women’s Initiative to provide women with the tools for realizing their untapped potential and encourage the community to appreciate a woman’s worth in society.
Their projects range from (example 1) walking around AUC with white t-shirts and asking women (in red marker) and men (in black marker) to write down what they think of Egyptian women to evaluate the climate of misogyny on campus to (example 2) giving women microfinance loans in shobra el-kheima (an extremely impoverished area in Cairo). If you want a copy of my paper on this group, I’ll gladly forward it on if you send me your email address.
It basically provides an interactive map (english & arabic) where you can report instances of sexual violence by geography, offense, time of day, etc. and other women can check the map to see where they should avoid walking. It’s great.
They run other campaigns that seek to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment and assault…this picture is only one in a series.
…did you really think I was going to leave you out, ya Deena?! No, everyone needs to be reminded that Deena is a badass and also her comics even made it into a BBC article.
– “Beyond the ‘Woman Question’ in the Egyptian Revolution » by Lila Abu Lughod
– “Topless protests raise the question: Who can speak for Muslim women? » by Lila abu Lughod
– “Smoke & Mirrors: Attacking the Muslim Brotherhood Using Women’s Rights » by Sara Salem
– “Why are veiled women denied entry to bars in Egypt? » by Aswat Masriya
– Sex & the Citadel by Shereen El Feki