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Women in post-revolutionary Egypt

Can Behaviour Be Controlled?

by Mette Toft Nielsen (Author) Peter Hervik (Author)
Monographs 226 Pages
Series: Political and Social Change, Volume 5

Summary

This book addresses how identity, structures, and agency affect women’s everyday lives in post-revolutionary Egypt. The authors analyse the topic both on a macro- as well as on a micro-level. Through interviews and workshops, women around Egypt express their own experiences in dialogue, in groups and in drawings. Based on the analysis of this material the reader gets insights into personal experiences, believes and opinions of a diverse group of women in terms of age, economic class, education, geography, culture, religion, ethnicity, marital status, and political orientation. The detail-rich empirical material presented in the book visualize that the 2011 revolution works as an utter frame on a macro-level, while different issues are more pressing on a micro-level.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the authors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Table Of Contents
  • Part One
  • Introduction
  • Demographics of the Egyptian Population
  • “The Woman Question”, Women’s Legal Rights and Participation
  • The 25 January Revolution—Women Revolutionaries
  • Timeline—An Overview
  • Timeline in Words
  • 25 January Revolution—A Woman-Centered Account
  • In Transition—From Mubarak To Morsi
  • Empowerment, Awareness, and El-Sisi in Office
  • Part Two
  • “My life”—In Light of The Revolution
  • Structures, Cultures and Globalisation
  • The Influence of Western Hegemony on the Middle East
  • Tradition and Modernity: Two Opposing Positions?
  • Egypt’s Independence
  • Agency in a Collectivistic Culture
  • Early Marriage and Polygyny
  • Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
  • Sexual Harassment and Patriarchal Structures
  • Male Superiority and Patriarchal Bargains
  • Women’s Work
  • Personal Development
  • The Role of Religion
  • Dependency
  • Religious Faith
  • The Notion of Liberation
  • Part Three
  • Do Universal Values Exist?
  • Structural Transformation and New Ways for Change
  • Interpersonal Change
  • Development or Prosperity
  • Personal Visions
  • Challenges and Opportunities
  • Bibliography
  • Series index

Mette Toft Nielsen / Peter Hervik

Women in
post-revolutionary Egypt

Can Behaviour Be Controlled?

About the authors

Mette Toft Nielsen holds an MA degree in Culture, Communication and Globalization from Aalborg University, Denmark. She focused on migration of Egyptians in her MA thesis, which gave rise for the project this book is a deliverable of.

Peter Hervik is anthropologist, Professor in Migration studies at the Department of Culture and Global Studies, at Aalborg University, Denmark. Hervik has conducted research among the Yucatec Maya of Mexico and on the representation in the news media of religious and ethnic minorities in Denmark, particularly themes of radical right wing populism, neonationalism, neoracism, ethnicization, Islamophobia and related issues.

About the book

This book addresses how identity, structures, and agency affect women’s everyday lives in post-revolutionary Egypt. The authors analyse the topic both on a macro- as well as on a micro-level. Through interviews and workshops, women around Egypt express their own experiences in dialogue, in groups and in drawings. Based on the analysis of this material the reader gets insights into personal experiences, believes and opinions of a diverse group of women in terms of age, economic class, education, geography, culture, religion, ethnicity, marital status, and political orientation. The detail-rich empirical material presented in the book visualize that the 2011 revolution works as an utter frame on a macro-level, while different issues are more pressing on a micro-level.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Acknowledgements

We extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to everyone who played a role in making this project possible. It has been overwhelmingly touching to experience such support and helpfulness. Above all, we thank the women for their participation.

We also thank Kenana NGO for sustainable development and women’s empowerment, who helped recruit women in Upper Egypt, Habiba Organic Farm and Eco Lodge helped us get in contact with Bedouin women in Sinai, Charisma Art and the Coptic Catholic Diocese in Minya played a crucial role in introducing us to Christian women in the governorate of Minya, Mubadra Center, who helped us reach women in Alexandria, Center for Arab-West understanding helped us reach out to women in Cairo, and Ismail Gagy, who introduced us to Bedouins in Siwa. Likewise great thanks to our assistants Aiaa and Christine from Cairo as well as Eman, Marwa and Shaimaa from Sohag.

Further, we extend our thanks and appreciation to our great friend and support Sarita Marchesi who has taken the photographs included in this book as well as put us in contact with several helpful connections, one of which is ZAD Communication and Production, who helped us produce a short film of the work behind this book. We are extremely grateful for this support and kindness. We would also like to stress our utmost gratitude and appreciation to the outstanding job of Fine Point Media and Z. Hall, who have helped us strengthen the communicative message through intensive and detail-oriented language editing.

In addition, we thank Kvinfo, a Danish think tank working on gender issues in a broad context, for their financial support and their belief in the project behind this book, and for underscoring the idea that feminism is not an issue or concern limited to women. Further, thank you to Samar who helped outline the project, and Aalborg University, in particular, Ulla Langballe, for her supportive contribution related to administrative efforts especially when delays and modifications occurred.

We express great appreciation to friends and family, who, all full-hearted, supported the efforts that made this project possible. Importantly, none of this would have been possible if not for the university students that gave rise to the idea of the project, the diverse range of women we have encountered and from whom we have learned so much, friends and colleagues and all who have engaged in presentations and discussions about the activities and findings related to the project. We are extremely excited to share this with you in the coming pages.

We also thank these organizations and individuals:←ix | x→

The National Council for Women

Friedrich Naumann Stiftung

BoSSy

Wesal AbdulMonem Mohamed AlSadeq

Prof. Samy Tayie

Peter Morris

Cornelis Hulsman

Mariam

Ghada

Rachel Aspden

Luqman Ji

Ahmed el Fiky

Information about the assisting organizations:

Kenana NGO for Development and Women Empowerment (Sohag):

Kenana NGO for Development and Women Empowerment is a NGO, not-for-profit organization that was established in 2008 to support the Upper Egyptian women specifically, and Egyptian women generally, in developing the capabilities necessary to reach their potential. The organization works on a local grass-root level with other NGOs on healthcare programs, environment awareness, and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) projects. They also work on a policy-level, for example, on various campaigns to pass draft laws for the benefit of women.

Center for Arab-West Understanding (Cairo):

The Center for Arab-West Understanding (CAWU) aims to foster better understanding between the Arab world and other cultures.

Charisma Arts (Cairo):

Charisma Arts is a social enterprise with the vision of using arts and social initiatives to empower the community. Since 2003 they have helped provide sustainable development and financial freedom for women artisans through selling their handicrafts. After the Egyptian revolution, they felt the urgency to start training programs too, being involved with many women in different governorates in Egypt through programs to start small projects for women.

For Charisma Arts, it is a rich experience and they anticipate more partnerships in the future.

Habiba Learning Center (South Sinai):

Habiba is building a sustainable community in which one of the important pillars is the inclusion of the women. They believe that participating in the present book←x | xi→ project allows us to better understand the needs and hopes of Bedouin women. According to their vision to build a sustainable community, they aim at developing all aspects of life for community members, whether children, women, or men and the environment. They are working on organic farming, pastoralism, fishing and agribusiness, and education and women empowerment.

Mubadra (Alexandria):

The democracy centre MUBADRA was established in 2011. Since then, it has worked with different foundations and institutes inside and outside of Egypt to spread the values of tolerance and democracy through workshops, roundtable events, and study visits. Mubadra focus is on youth and women empowerment to promote protection of their civil rights. Accordingly, Mubadra expressed their happiness to participate in the project for this book and looks forward to engaging in similar projects.

A few comments from our assistants:

Aia: “The moment my eyes fell on this opportunity, I had this nagging feeling that I should be part of it because of many reasons: The first is, I am a supporter and promoter for women rights and equality. The second is, I consider myself a political activist, keeping track of all the political events taking place in the streets, and I would love to help throughout this project. The third and most important reason is my neutrality towards any and all political, social, sexual and religious affiliations, which gives me the ability to deal and interact fairly with different people regardless their ideologies and beliefs.”

Christine: “I’ve always been wondering why women abroad hold important posts as ministers of defense and presidents while Egyptian women, until recently, were not allowed to hold judicial posts. I came to a few results among which some false beliefs and old traditions, which we have to get rid of. Through this project I expect to discover much more of those reasons, besides discovering the secret behind the role of Egyptian women in the political life whether official as in elections or unofficial as in demonstrations, where the Egyptian women dominated the scenes despite years of marginalization. The Egyptian woman is the full sense of the word “Unique”.”

Marwa: “I care about women’s issues because I experienced how many women in Upper Egypt are unable to take their rights—both within the family as well as in the surrounding community. I am interested in participating in this project because it gives attention to the problems women are experiencing and the need to solve such problems. It focuses on what is listed by the women [in the workshops and the interviews], their stories with all its details. I wish, I could give←xi | xii→ all the Egyptian women their rights within the family, the work sphere and the community, but this is activated through an interest in women’s education and access to higher degrees and positions”.

Eman: “The main reason I decided to participate in this project is that it will help me discuss the issues on the other side of the problem of poverty. I believe it will support me a lot in my current job focusing on women and how to help them and develop economically and socially. It allows me to talk with women about the problems they are facing and how these problems impact their lives, but it does not only focus on discussing problems, as it also discusses potential solutions to those problems – solutions that are realistic in light of the social customs and traditions. I hope to God that through this project we can come closer to these solutions!”

Shaimaa: “I am mainly interested in participating in this project because of my interest in women’s issues, especially related to deprivation and violation of women’s rights. I see this project can help in creating awareness in various fields of life whether religious, social, health-related or legal issues, too many of which are defined by religious concepts and misconceptions and are fostered by customs and traditions, thus are not given room for change. I admire the idea of the project of enhancing women’s social influence by documenting the status of women in Egypt and focus on simple solutions to help them and support them in how to get their rights, for the Egyptian woman to be able to live the life she dreams of”.

More information, including pictures and articles, related to this book project can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/withandaboutwomeninegypt←xii | xiii→

Biographical notes

Mette Toft Nielsen (Author) Peter Hervik (Author)

Peter Hervik is anthropologist, Professor in Migration studies at the Department of Culture and Global Studies, at Aalborg University, Denmark. Hervik has conducted research among the Yucatec Maya of Mexico and on the representation in the news media of religious and ethnic minorities in Denmark, particularly themes of radical right wing populism, neonationalism, neoracism, ethnicitzation, Islamophobia and related issues. Mette Toft Nielsen studied Culture, Communication and Globalization at Aalborg University, Denmark. She went to Egypt in 2012 to write her thesis and engage herself in the field of education. Through these experiences she got inspiration for the present study.

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