Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


Women's Rights in Question in New Egyptian Constitution

Women's rights activists are protesting the draft constitution proposed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that will be voted on by the general public on December 15th, 2012. Many activists are worried that the draft constitution does not protect women's equality under the law and instead inserts women into the law as defined by traditional roles.

One of the most controversial aspects of the constitution is the assertion of Sharia, Islamic law, as the primary foundation of legislation. Many secular and women's activist believe that this assertion will allow for religious extremism to become the basis for laws restricting women's rights.

In addition, women activists believe that women's rights are not protected fully and the constitution reasserts women to traditional family roles. Article 10 provides free maternal and child health services, but also states the government will "enable the reconciliation between the duties of a woman toward her family and her work" which many fear is an indication the government will push women back into the home. Article 11 empowers the Egyptian government "to safeguard ethics, morality..." which could lead to extremist controls on women's freedoms under the guise of "morality." While proponents of the constitution argue that women are included as part of an equality article, many critics feel this article does not sufficiently protect women from discrimination under the law.

In a press conference, the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights said "The current draft constitution does not represent Egyptian women in any way, but progressively ignores their rights as citizens." An activist group, Nazra, issued a statement declaring: "The draft constitution ignores political participation of women, it did not adopt an electoral system to ensure their effective participation or that women are represented democratically within different elected assemblies."

"Women have not been mentioned in the constitution, only in family and divorce. Seventy-five per cent of Egyptian women work and there is no mention about their rights in the constitution," protester Mona Elwakel told the Toronto Star from Tahrir Square.

In December 2011, thousands of women gathered in Cairo as part of the "Million Women March" to protest police brutality towards female protestors. The march followed a widely broadcasted incident in which security forces brutally beat, kicked, and dragged a woman protestor. According to the New York Times, "Historians called the event the biggest women's demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women's activism here, and a rarity in the Arab world." Women were also a large population of protesters in the 2011 revolution protests in Tahrir Square that lead to the fall of former President Hosni Murbarak.

Media Resources: Women's e-News 12/13/12; Washington Post 12/12/12;All Africa 12/10/12;Toronto Star 12/10/12; Time 12/9/12; Feminist Newswire 12/22/11

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.



Send to a Friend

More Feminist News

10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost. The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot. SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy." "We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event. SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .