Tomorrow is the International Women Day, but let’s forget international for now and look at what’s happening in
Egyptian women have been a crucial part of the revolution, even by helping planning when Asmaa Mahfouz called for protests and spread it through social media. Women fought against the regime alongside men and fell victim to brutality and murder at the hands of police and thugs.
Now women are moving, sobering up and breaking the taboos of patriarchy and organizing a protest in Tahrir for democracy and women rights. The initiative didn’t come from NGOs or any institutions, but was called for by men and women; activists, academics, civil society workers, and others. Jan 25 revolution proves to be breaking more barriers than previously thought.
Women demands range from abandoning FGM and sexual harassment to being able to run for president. Some demands stir controversy more than others though; especially when women call for ending polygamy or equal inheritance! The demands are also political asking for more representation in government and parliament.
Controversy also comes from different grounds. Sally Zahran whose photo became one of the central images of revolution martyrs and whom I personally saw perform in a beautiful piece called Cairo Complaints Choir, caused a debate when some people asked for avoiding using her photo with her hair uncovered and spread another one of her wearing the veil. Also, people debated whether Sally died in Tahrir or not, and her mother appeared on TV to say that she fell out of balcony after a fight with her family when they ordered her to stay home and avoid protesting. The true story will never surface I guess.
The fact that all that controversy was focused on the beautiful daring Sally reveals a problem and discomfort with free women like her. Would the same happen if Sally was a guy?
So far the event seems to be stirring debate, mostly among women themselves who are debating whether women are oppressed or not, and whether they should go out to call for their right nor not, and when. This is all healthy and hopefully a step towards the long awaited new