Women’s Human Rights in Egypt: Food, Safety, and Political Participation

Poverty among women and gender violence in Egypt, while longstanding, have increased in recent years and require immediate attention. While women-based labor unions in the manufacturing cities of Egypt significantly catalyzed the Egyptian revolution of 2011, the rates of poverty and hunger are increasing everyday, impacting women and children disproportionately. Additionally, since the revolution began in January 2011, political groups have used sexual violence as a tool to quell social movements working towards democratic change. Methods such as virginity testing, beatings, and sexual harassment have become normalized tactics to suppress women from political participation and punish their male counterparts or families. However, limited research has documented the gendered realities of this revolution. For instance, there exist virtually no documentation explaining the factors that brought massive numbers of poor women to the revolution or the significance of gender to their participation. Virtually no analyses exist regarding why gang rapes began occurring in November 2012 or there has been a rise in incidents of sexual violence.

This project documents the distinct ways that poverty and gender violence have impacted Egyptian women’s lives since the beginning of the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Based on this documentation, I will produce an on-line digital archive that will benefit local and global researchers, women’s rights and human rights advocates and policy makers committed to addressing these problems. I will also publish scholarly essays on these themes. This project is based upon ethnographic research in Cairo, Egypt between July and December 2012, archival research, and an ongoing collaboration with the Egyptian feminist organization, Women and Memory Forum. The project coincides with the efforts of various Egyptian women’s organizations already working with local and global policy makers in order to: a) create public debate on poverty and violence; b) make public spaces more safe; c) increase social responsibility related to gender violence; and d) institutionalize political and legal structures for ending gender violence. This project will also benefit any individual or institution working to end poverty and violence in Muslim majority countries or working more generally to end violence against women within the context of social movements, revolutions, or political conflicts.

Project Team:

Nadine Naber, College of LSA