Women in the Arab Uprisings

“Women’s participation during the revolution was remarkable.”

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Women in the Arab Uprisings[*]

Egyptian activist Shaza Abdel Lateef speaks against a backdrop of severe lack of women’s rights- no opening independent bank accounts, voting or driving, in Saudi Arabia, to daily police harassment in Egypt. There has been a wide range of experiences in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, but what cuts across the revolts is that women have been central, and are proud of their mobilization.

In the Streets

Women in Tahrir Square were of all ages and social groups resisting poverty, brutality, corruption. They led marches and participated in human shields, in spite of sexist gender roles relegating women to be protected, kept home, and not participate in public, political, activity. This is why Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian feminist and former political prisoner, stresses that women and girls, like men and boys, are in the streets calling for justice, freedom, equality and democracy.

As a whole, protests led by many women-based labor unions in the manufacturing cities of Egypt played a key role in catalyzing the Egyptian revolution. Benghazi fell, says Najla el Manghoush, because “both men and women, educated and not, were being humiliated. Now we are all rebuilding it together."

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