Quotes: US MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

A backwards leap for women  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Jordan Times - 26/08/2012

No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!


(MENAFN - Jordan Times) This summer, as the dust of the Arab Spring revolutions begins to settle, women - who stood shoulder to shoulder with men in defying tyranny - are finding themselves marginalised and excluded from decision making. Despite the new freedoms championed by the revolutionaries, women continue to be regarded as subordinate to men.

In Tunisia, a mass protest called for all women to be veiled, which led to unveiled female religion professors being hounded off campuses. Mobs shouted at Tunisian women demonstrators to go back to the kitchen "where they belong".

In Egypt, too, conservative forces are on the rise, demanding policies - particularly reforms of family legislation - that would represent a step backward for women.

Angered and alarmed by these developments, Arab women have been forced to defend their rights. In April 2011, Tunisian women successfully pressed for an electoral-parity law, thanks to which they won 49 of 217 parliamentary seats in last October's elections. In Egypt, though, the prospects for women seem gloomier, because they failed to retain the pre-revolution quota system that had given them 64 parliamentary seats.

That system was replaced by a new electoral law that obliges political parties to include at least one woman on their candidate lists. But almost all parties put female candidates at the end of their lists; as a result, only nine women were elected to parliament.

The Senior Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the ruling junta, appointed two more women, bringing the share of women MPs to about 2 per cent.

Islamist groups won majorities in both the Tunisian and Egyptian parliaments. Draft legislation that reflects a restrictive interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law), particularly concerning women's status, is now being submitted for debate in Tunisia. And there seems to be a clear intention in many Arab countries to allow unrestricted polygamy, for example, even where it was prohibited prior to the Arab Spring.

In Egypt, matters are more complicated. SCAF, fearing an Islamist takeover ahead of the presidential election, dissolved the parliament in June, following a judicial decision that they (and the court) insist must be upheld. But the new president, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, has ordered the parliament to reconvene.

Previously, the parliament's legislative committee received a proposal to lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 years to 12. Needless to say, this would cut short girls' education, not to mention other harmful implications.

A powerful feature of the Egyptian revolution was the equality between the very different actors who initiated it. None tried to seize a leadership role. The power struggle pitted the forces of Hosni Mubarak's regime against the people, including women, who were on the streets and in the squares demanding freedom, dignity and social justice.

But now things are strikingly different. The once unified opposition to the Mubarak regime has become fragmented, with each faction defending its own interests and advocating its own version of the revolution's goals.

The two most prominent actors in the new power spectrum - the military, represented by SCAF, and the Islamists, who include the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists - are surrounded by lesser political parties, youth coalitions and others.

Unfortunately, women's political position is weak. The National Council for Women has been restructured, there is a new Egyptian Feminist Union, and a number of coalitions made up of feminist NGOs have been created. But they are far from being sufficiently organised to work together effectively.

There now seem to be two scenarios for women's future status in Egypt, neither of which is very hopeful. In the first scenario, SCAF - which, aside from dissolving the parliament, stripped the presidency of most powers in order to weaken its rivals - continues to rule the country under the military system introduced in 1952 when Mohamed Naguib and then Gamal Abdel Nasser seized power.

Militarism and patriarchy are inextricably linked, and both view masculinity as the opposite of femininity. If soldiers - and, by extension, all "real" men - are strong and daring, then real women should be the antithesis: passive, obedient and in need of protection as "good" wives, sisters and mothers.

The second scenario is an Islamist regime: Morsi negotiates with SCAF a transition to civilian rule; Islamists continue to dominate a restored parliament; and the new constitution establishes a theocratic state. Most of Egypt's Islamists, particularly those who returned from exile in Saudi Arabia, adhere to the Wahhabi sect, with its severe restrictions on women, implying that women's status would be much worse than it was before the revolution.

Among other things, new legislation would make polygamy the rule, rather than the exception, and would deprive women of an equal right to divorce. The Islamists could also impose the veil and later on the niqab. An immense effort would be required of women's rights activists to be prevent a reign of injustice.

Unfortunately, neither SCAF nor Morsi espouses the type of liberal regime that would provide women with opportunities to take on the leadership roles that have traditionally been denied to them. Indeed, the only glimmer of hope remaining for women's equality and dignity in Egypt is the willingness of all who seek such a regime to unite and try yet again to fulfill the democratic promise of Egypt's revolution.

The writer is president of the Egyptian Feminist Union. Project Syndicate/Europe's World, 2012. www.project-syndicate.org, www.europesworld.org


  MENA News Headlines
Apr 23 2014Omantel launches service package for youth ,MENAFN
(MENAFN) Omantel announced launching 'Ozone' plan, a new package designed especially for the youth. This comes with the company"s constant efforts to enhance the communication needs of its customers, ...

Apr 23 2014Dh154 billion for Arabtec projects ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Arabtec will spend dh140 billion on building one million low-cost houses in egypt and dh14 billion on five mixed-use residential projects in abu dhabi and dubai its chief ...

Apr 23 2014?Titli? makers excited about Cannes selection ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The movie about the badlands of delhi?s dystopic underbelly will be in competition as part of the un certain regard section of the 67th cannes film gala to be held may ...

Apr 23 2014Saudi- Yaroub Bashraheel: In search of peace ... underwater ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) You've heard of diving snorkeling and other water activities but rarely has anyone heard of free-diving. it's a form of diving underwater without the aid of any breathing ...

Apr 23 2014Saudi- Schneider highlights intelligent health care solutions at forum ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Schneider electric a global specialist in energy management is set to showcase its leadership in intelligent health care solutions at the second saudi forum for planning and ...

Apr 23 2014Saudi- Divorcees can seek housing ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) The kingdom will accept applications from saudi divorced women and widows for financial and housing support said justice minister muhammad al-issa.al-issa called on applicants ...

Apr 23 2014Saudi Savola Group revenue up 43 pct in Q1 ,MENAFN
(MENAFN) Saudi Arabia's Savola Group registered a 43 percent increase in profits in the first quarter, well over expectations of analysts, Arabian Business reported. According to a statement to ...

Apr 23 2014Tamouh steps up activity on projects ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Abu dhabi-based real-estate developer tamouh has scaled up construction activity on all of its announced reem island projects to meet the rising demand for prime spaces in ...

Apr 23 2014Here?s your chance to share screen space with SRK ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Groupon india has joined hands with srk?s red chillies entertainment to give fans a chance to feature with the superstar in his upcoming film ?happy new year?. if you ...

Apr 23 2014Saudi- Noha Al-Sharif — an expert in Islamic sculpture ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi sculptress noha al-sharif is known for her islamic inspired sculptures that reflect both religion and lifestyle. the concept of modern art attracted her to this medium ...

Apr 23 2014Dewa and GE explore collaboration opportunities ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Saeed mohammed al tayer managing director and chief executive officer of the dubai electricity and water authority (dewa) recently received a ge delegation to explore ...

Apr 23 2014Local international companies come out in force ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Cityscape abu dhabi has started showing stronger interest from property developers who have showcased their upcoming projects. the three-day realty show was opened by ...

Apr 23 2014Saudi- ASUS showcases product series at Aramco Week ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Asus described as the world's renowned consumer notebook vendor and producer of the 'world's best-selling motherboards" recently participated in aramco week and showcased a ...

Apr 23 2014Sale of Gate Towers penthouses launched ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Aldar properties has launched the sale of 21 exclusive duplex penthouse apartments at gate towers the penthouse collection in shams abu dhabi on al reem island. one of ...

Apr 23 2014Saudi- Five to die for 2003 attacks ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) A special criminal court on sunday convicted five people of terror related charges and sentenced them to death. thirty-seven others were sentenced to varying prison terms for ...

Apr 23 2014ADCB profit grows 26% in first quarter ,Khaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Abu dhabi commercial bank?s profit grew 26 per cent in the first quarter of the year to dh1. however net profit rose 22 per cent year-on-year. non-interest income was 24 ...

Apr 23 2014Qatar's Ezdan Holding buys 20 percent stake in Widam Food ,MENAFN
(MENAFN) Qatar-based Ezdan Holding Group said that it acquired a 20.16 percent stake in Widam Food Co. in a bid to promote investments and diversify its portfolio, The Peninsula Qatar ...

Apr 23 2014Kowait: 5938 illegal residents said 'rectified' status ,Arab Times
(MENAFN - Arab Times) Kuwait city april 5 (kuna): up to 5 938 illegal residents have modified their status since formation of the central agency for remedying illegal residents' status in 2011 ...

Apr 23 2014'Piles and piles' of bodies in S. Sudan ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Nairobi: gunmen who targeted both children and the elderly left 'piles and piles" of bodies — many of those in a mosque — in a provincial capital in south sudan the un's top ...

Apr 23 2014UAE- Billion-dollar realty projects on show ,Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Cityscape abu dhabi a three-day realty event that began with 120 regional and international exhibitors witnessed major announcements on tuesday.salama bint hamdan al-nahyan ...





Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country
Marketwatch News
UPI News
Comtex News

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details


Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks

Saudi Arabia 

Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

Portfolio Tracker


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor


Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters

© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help