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Resistance, Revolt, and Gender Justice in Egypt by Mariz Tadros

Resistance, Revolt, and Gender Justice in Egypt by Mariz Tadros

Author:Mariz Tadros
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: Women's Studies, Social Science
ISBN: 9780815634614
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Published: 2016-05-17T21:00:00+00:00


7

Whose Democracy Wish list(s)?

I

n June 2011, four months after the ousting of President Mubarak, the euphoria around Egypt’s democratic takeoff was at its apex. UN Women, together with the Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and Pathways of Women’s Empowerment, hosted a major conference on women and democratization at the five-star Marriott Hotel in Cairo. The focus was how to ensure gender issues were integrated in Egypt’s transition and how to learn from other countries’ experiences of incorporating gender equality in their democratization processes. Michelle Bachelet, speaking in Cairo, shared reflections from the Chilean experience and emphasized the importance of women’s empowerment being at the heart of any democratization. She highlighted that “it is crucial to understand that the processes of social struggle and the transition to democracy are unique moments for mending broken ties with the community, shaping institutions, and thinking about the country in the coming decades” (Bachelet 2011).

In the same conference, and during the many conferences that followed in the months after the ousting of Mubarak, invited participants issued recommendations for how Egypt should democratize. But while people gathered in the Marriott Hotel to learn about what must be done to engender Egypt’s democratic transition, the situation outside the hotel was not very promising. In March 2013, members of the army police had sexually violated women who were peacefully protesting in Tahrir Square (see chapter 6 for more details on the virginity test lawsuit). A UN staff member blew the whistle on the SCAF and was killed shortly thereafter in broad daylight, in what was believed to be an assassination. On February 15, 2011, Mohamed Tantawy (representing the SCAF) announced

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the formation of a new committee tasked with amending the constitution. The committee was headed by Tarek el Bishri, a former head of Conseil d’Etat, and comprised another seven members: Atef el Banna, Hassanein Abd el Al, Mohamed Bahi, Sobhi Saleh, Maher Sami, Hassan Badrawi, and moderator Hassan Begato. The committee members were all judges and professors of law except one participant, a Muslim Brotherhood lawyer. There was not a single woman on the committee despite the fact that Tahany el Gebaly was the deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court and in spite of the large cohort of distinguished women professors of law in Egyptian universities.

A transitional government was appointed with minimal representation of women. There were rumors that Essam Sharaf, who presided over Egypt as prime minister from March 3 to November 22, 2011, had pledged to establish a women’s ministry—an idea that once again did not materialize. The political situation deteriorated even further as youth revolutionary forces battled the army, accusing it of usurping power and encroaching on civil liberties. The state-owned and affiliated media and press began a vilification campaign against the youth revolutionaries (Amar 2013). The Islamists also contributed to the demonization of the revolutionaries, portraying them as “not real men” and agents of the West. As for women, the image of the emancipated woman camping in Tahrir Square began to be



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