Where were the women at the ‘Million Man March’?

By
February 1, 2011 20:37

“This is not only about women, men, Christians or Muslims - this is Egyptian, we all want freedom for ourselves and our people.”

3 minute read.



Protesters call for regime change

egyptianprotester sign 311. (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)

Dressed in a bright pink hijab and contrasting blue sweater, the young woman leads the crowd of mostly men in a loud piercing Arabic chant:

“What does Mubarak want anyway? All Egyptians to kiss his feet? No, Mubarak, we will not! Tomorrow we’ll trample you with our shoes!”

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Depicted on YouTube under the banner “Bravest girl in Egypt,” this three-minute video clip, which has already had more than 10,000 views, gives a small insight into the role Egyptian women have played throughout the last week of protests calling for the country’s president of the past 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, to step down.

On Tuesday, one week after the unrest began, those behind the protests urged all Egyptians to join a mass demonstration in the capital’s central Tahrir Square for what was prenamed the “Million Man March‚” but the question is, were the women there too?

“We are all out together, even the children,” said one Egyptian tweeter in limited communication. “Do a Google search for women in Egypt and you will see pics of them. They have been protesting along side the men through this whole thing.”

She continued, “This is not only about women, men, Christians or Muslims – this is Egyptian, we all want freedom for ourselves and our people.”

The woman said there was no question that the Egyptian women were present at all the protests, adding: “Any Egyptian man will tell you he is scared of only three things: God, his mom and his wife. The ladies rule the roost.”

Other Egyptian activists posting on Twitter Tuesday also suggested that the Million Man March was not as its title suggested, and some pointed to the carefully compiled album by Leil-Zahra Mortada making the rounds on social media networks, which shows how women have contributed to what many are calling a “popular uprising.”

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With more than 100 photos of women at various protests in Egypt, Mortada points out in the album’s comments section (available publicly through Facebook), “[I] don’t have the rights to any of them, but it is important to get the voices out especially that the media so far has been ignoring the presence of women in the Egyptian revolution.

“[A] homage to all those women out there fighting, and whose voices and faces are hidden from the public eye!” she adds.

At Tuesday’s mass demonstration in Tahrir Square, where estimates suggested that between 100,000 and one million people had gathered, Russian- language journalist Ksenia Svetlova told The Jerusalem Post that many women had turned out to call for Mubarak to leave the country.

“Of course there are not as many women here as men but still they are here, young and old; some have even come with their babies to demonstrate,” she told the Post.

Asked whether the women of Egypt have additional demands or specific hopes for the future apart from democratizing the country, she said, “Right now they are not concentrated on anything else except for getting rid of Mubarak and his regime.”

One other Egyptian woman, who was on her way to the Tahrir protest Tuesday, said in a phone interview that “women’s participation is as strong as the men’s and maybe even more.”

She said that all women expect the change to be positive and are hopeful that life will be better in Egypt for everyone, including improving women’s rights and freedoms.

“But right now,” she said, “Everyone is just calling for the downfall of Mubarak.”


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