Since President Hosni Mubarak’s ousting earlier this year, the men and women of Egypt have shared a common goal – to rid themselves of the chains of a dictatorship and create a real democracy. They both yearned for a new Egypt. However, it is debatable whether the revolution in Egypt has truly reached its goal. The controversy with Islamists possibly dominating the next parliament, as well as snail paced nation-building, has been at the forefront of the politics of the North African state since March. Moreover, Mubarak’s pending trial, with headlines screaming “Saddam vs Hosni”, have also dominated the Egyptian scene.
As I sit here, in Western-Egyptian coffee shop, Cilantro, London, I can’t help but contemplate who can truly blame them? Twenty years of oppression cannot be so easily eradicated in a Cairo-minute. Long gone are the days of the French Revolution and the dragging of Mussolini’s corpse by it’s heels through the Plazza’s of Rome. If we look at more peaceful transitions, for example, the Spanish transition to democracy after more than forty years of oppression in the late 1970s, saw two years of work to draft a constitution and implement an Amnesty Law. If we are going to level the world playing field, we can say Egypt still has some time before getting itself back up on its feet. However, this is not the 1970s, Mubarak isn’t Franco, and the Arab world is not Europe. Alas, maybe things will be different.
My main preoccupation right now with the transition is the status of women. The ‘Pharao-esses’ who fought so bravely with their male counterparts early this year. Women, who regularly faced sexual harassment from Mubarak’s police force often even claimed that Tahrir Square felt like the safest place in Cairo during the revolution. But will these neo-Nefertiti’s get a fair deal post-Tahrir? Currently the women of Egypt have passed significant milestones, for example, recently it was declared that Egyptian women who are married to non-Egyptian men can now pass their Egyptian nationality to their children, paving smoother access to social services and education.
However, there are still other obstacles to be overcome. Female activists, are seeking that a new constitution protects women’s rights when it comes to divorce, child custody, and parliamentary representation regardless of party domination. Azza Sulaiman, one of the founders of Centre for Egyptian Women, claims that the road to political equality is not black and white, whilst social justice and equal rights will encounter no problematic debates constitutionally, it is its interpretation and implementation that may be a concern. Education for both men and women is necessary in order to ensure social harmony, especially when it comes to private sector and economic opportunities. Women need to be guaranteed equal access to top tier jobs, to vote freely, and ensure they continue fighting for freedom for everyone in society.
This perhaps goes back to my previous statement that revolutions and transitions aren’t what they used to be. It’s not about banishing a tyrant. A twenty-first century revolution has a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up, it is multi-faceted, and hopefully they will give an example for the future.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
Latest posts by CME (see all)
- “Terrorist, plain and simple”? The misleading strategy behind the “terrorist” tag. – October 6, 2015
- Letter Smuggled out of Egyptian Prisons: Esraa El Taweel Speak – July 14, 2015
- We must not forget Abu-Salim – July 7, 2015