Three years ago jubilant crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo after Egypt’s dictator Mubarak, forced from power. But the women who called for democracy and equality soon witnessed a setback for the fight. Today, violence and sexual harassment against women to be a big problem in Egypt. Håkan Widman reports about WLP’s movie “Because of Our Cause is Just” and speaks with Mahnaz Afkhami.
Throughout the media coverage in recent months of the tumultuous events in Egypt, little attention has been paid to Egyptian women, who may have the most to gain or to lose in any new political order that emerges in the country. Social media and dedicated Web sites are filling the gap for many women eager for news, in Egypt and across the Muslim world…Mahnaz Afkhami has a network of contacts in Egypt…
Afkhami and panelists discuss the classic novel “Woman at Point Zero” by Egyptian author and feminist Nawal El Saadawi which is based on a true story about a woman whose struggles to survive poverty ending with her facing execution–at the same prison where the author herself was held for political activism. First published in Arabic in 1975.
“Movement building is extremely important…We still haven’t figured out our relationship with religion as women activists,” said Afkhami. “We still have a divide between those who consider themselves deep believers and those who consider themselves activists [for women’s rights], as if you have to choose between your faith and your activism.”
Featuring key discussions from the Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 28–30, 2013, watch filmmaker Jenny Montasir’s 4 minute shows us how the work…in spite of the challenges is continuing. “Girls’ and women’s rights are systematically violated,” says Women Deliver, but women are fighting today, especially in Egypt, as much as possible to remove these obstacles. “It’s about human security and human rights,” says Iranian human rights advocate Ms. Mahnaz Afkhami.
“When I was conceptualizing (WLP’s first) leadership manual many years ago we thought once the English prototype was tested in various settings, each country would choose local narratives to replace the international ones,” Afkhami said. “Much to our surprise, everyone wanted to keep most of the scenarios from other places because of just that fact. They all wanted to engage in specific problem-solving with an understanding of the similarities in the condition of women across cultures.”
Over the past two months protest movements have transformed the face of governments across the Middle East and North Africa. As the upheaval continues, we examine the role of women in these demonstrations, and how new regimes will affect women’s rights throughout the region. Will they bring greater freedoms, or impose further constraints?
NPR KQED Radio / By Michael Krasny / Listen