A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tomorrow: International Women's Day in Cairo This Year Has Special Resonance

Tomorrow, March 8, marks International Women's Day, but in Egypt it has other symbolism as well, since it marks a year since the demonstrations that led to the now notorious "virginity tests" that have become a rallying cry for women's rights and a black eye for the military regime. (March 16, on the other hand, is Egyptian Women's Day, marking the famous protest by women during the 1919 Revolution.) Tomorrow will be marked by a women's march to the Journalists' s Syndicate (poster at left). It seeks greater political representation after relatively few women were elected to Parliament.

Actually, at the International Women's Day last year women were harassed and cursed;  it was at the broader Tahrir Square Friday demonstrations the next day, March 9, that the first "virginity tests" were reported.http://mideasti.blogspot.com/2011/03/moment-for-outrage-abuse-of-women-in.html Throughout the troubled past year women have frequently been in the crossfire (sometimes literally, always figuratively), memorably including the searing photos of the beating and stripping of the "blue bra woman" that led US Secretary of State Clinton to denounce "the systematic degradation of women,"  Samira Ibrahim's legal fight against the Army, journalist MonaElTahawy's beating, groping and broken arms, culminating in the powerful Women's March in December. Nor, of course, is this a complete catalog of the violence inflicted on women, not just as part of the revolutionary upheaval, but as part of daily life. I've also sought to note the historical roles of Hoda Sha‘arawi, and of the first women's demonstration during the Uprising of 1919.

It has been a turbulent year for Egypt as a whole and particularly for Egyptian women, who have, however, made their voices heard. As did their great-great-grandmothers in that earlier revolution of 1919.
Women Demonstrating in 1919

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