Egyptian women were at the forefront of the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak as much as men were, and they are takikng part in the demonstrations against the president and the military council that took over after his ouster.
Asmaa Hamdi, 19, took part in the uprising by handing out leaflets for the January 25 demonstration; she was arrested on January 18.
Despite the generally successful outcome of the revolution, Hamdi says the case for women is questionable, and that the maltreatment women received before the uprising is still occurring.
The infamous video of a female protester apparently being stripped and beaten by military forces bears witness to accusations of the assault on women.
According to human rights groups, the maltreatment doesn’t stop there; the group says female detainees were forced to take virginity tests and beatings, and that male guards observed the incidents.
Fatima Emam, a researcher at the non-governmental organization NAZRA, says discrimination towards women isn’t limited to the social aspect, but is political as well. She added that women were poorly represented in parliamentary positions as well as on local councils.
Activist and blogger Dalia Ziada, however, stood for the Justice party, an opportunity she believed she didn’t have during the Mubarak era.
While women are now more involved in mainstream politics, their high expectations have adversely marginalized them. Ziada believes that women are now uniting to overcome patriarchal barriers.
“I see this as a positive step, but there are other negative steps, the most important the stagnant mentality of society regarding women and the determination to prohibit them from playing any leadership roles, allowing only a certain and specified role in the home,” she said. “Of course, this is a difficult situation and will take time, but we must continue the pressure to achieve this as activists or politicians in order to find a suitable place for women in society and to integrate them in all kinds of activities," she said.
Dalia Ziada - activist and blogger