LSE’s Nabila Ramdani looks at the role women played in that revolution and sees parallels with the women’s movement in Egypt today.
The role of women in Arab revolutions is a subject which could not be more important at the moment. Despite playing a crucial part in the 18-day uprising which ended Hosni Mubarak’s rule in February 2011, women remain marginalised, if not ignored altogether. There are just 12 women MPs out of a total of 498. This translates into female representation of 2.4 percent compared to an already extremely low United Nations world average of 19 percent. The 13 original candidates in the presidential race were all men.
Such statistics have particular resonance for me as part of my PhD focuses on the role of women in Egypt’s 1919 revolution. As they did last year, women played a momentous role in the revolt against British rule, but found themselves sidelined by the nationalist Wafd party after Egypt was granted nominal independence in 1922. The foiled legacy of Huda Shaarawi, who launched the Egyptian feminist movement a year later by publicly removing her veil, now continues into the 21st century. Those who followed the 2011 revolution on their TV screens will remember how women played a prominent part in the mass demonstrations, not least of all on Cairo’s Tahrir Square. One chapter in my dissertation examines how women in Egypt took to the streets for the first time ever, asserting themselves as formidable enemies of the British Empire and how this nationalistic dissent was transformed into a bona fide feminist movement. Continue reading