The idea of inferiority of women is global and manifests itself in many cultural configurations. Gender equality and women/girls empowerment is at the foundation of development, not just for women/girls growth and development, but also for balanced lifestyles, communities and countries socioeconomic, and political advancement. Women/girls have the same abilities as do men but sometimes can be untapped resources, that can contribute to the growth and development of their communities and countries. However, there seems to be a disparity in Egypt as to whether women actually want equality, or do they lack access and opportunities to resources that would afford them growth, or is it the perceived inequalities, simply differences between men and women and/or part of a deeply ingrained cultural belief.
I my opinion all of these issues have equal merit and justifications, and are equally problematic globally. As in Oil, Islam, and Women (Ross, 2008), he states in the “Middle East, fewer women work outside the home, and fewer hold positions in government, than in any other region of the world, and also the lack presence in the labor force. This is fundamentally believed to be due to the religious beliefs and obedience to Islamic traditions.
Egyptian-American writer Mona Eltahawy’s talks about women equality
In Egyptian culture there seems to be a correlation between a “female wage” and “female unearned income”, this theory discerns that as the female wage goes up, more females will enter the labor force. That appears to be no different in Egypt as anywhere. However, it also takes into consideration the income that is earned by other family members. As family income rises, especially the husband’s the female homemaker is less likely to join the labor force due to the decrease need and her expectancy in the home. The dynamics of women/girls in Egypt also has other facets affecting the disparities of women and girls, and are subjected to inequalities related to social and cultural norms, economic pressures, religious beliefs, etc. Egyptian equality ranks 132 of 148 countries.
Governmental response has had some positive action and taking responsibility in promoting women’s rights and monitoring complaints regarding gender discrimination against women. On the political side women did gain the right to vote in 1956, however, after the 2011 revolution women’s participation was limited with only 2% of the seats in the assembly are held by women. There are not many women legal representatives or judges. Education literacy is still quite high, at 82% for females and 88% for males, with school enrollment rates 64% for females and 66% for males, However, males are educated to higher levels then females. Reproductive health 7% of young women age 20 – 24 gave birth before their 18th birthday and is very common for women to marry very young. Female genital mutilation (FGM) currently is very common in Egypt, and also illegal, however it is still occurring at the expense of women ‘s health, body image and psychosocial development, also “Honor killings” where there is no current law that prohibits domestic violence, rape is a crime, however, not if your married. (Unicef, 2011).
Two organizations’ that empower women in Egypt is the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a form of the UN and USAID/Egypt. Both organizations promote gender equality and women empowerment. They address gender inequalities in education, employment, political and domestic violence, and provide jobs, aid, training, and trade opportunities. Below are pictures of young women being sponsored by USAID in educational endeavors. There are still many women’s cries and anguish over the violence and inequalities, and their concerns are being voiced and protests occurring regarding these issues, with the help of The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) http://en.eohr.org. This affirms that their are women who are not satisfied with the disparities and want to make different choices of lifestyle then they are acquiescing to.
Photo Credit: Claudia Gutierrez, USAID/Egypt
I think that women/girls should be given equal rights to all opportunities in employment, education, technology, industry, politics etc., in lifestyle decision. Women are very strong and adaptable individuals and can make and have made decision to be homemakers, teachers, scientists, doctors, senators, etc. They also have simultaneously had children, and maintain families and households in their careers. They should be able to choose whichever, path they desire or can achieve, with equitable opportunities and enjoy the benefits. Egypt is very much struggling in the direction of male, female equality, their cultural heritage and male dominance is difficult to penetrate, but globally there are some organizations actively working to make a difference.
I too take a stand to empower women. In my home in Haiti I have established an organization for the education, food and housing for 18 girls and boys called Jean Arnold Institution Mixte: Please click on the link below to lean a little more about my venture to aid and empowerment……Thanks
Take a moment to review: “Let Girls Learn
In the Arab states a campaign kicked off in 2015 in partnership with an advertising agency, that over-turned a long-standing social norm against publicly pronouncing “Your Mother’s Name” This was a video campaign in Egypt which took clips of men in the street, explaining why they could not “say it.” It provoked a debate across the region, and the men did end up pronouncing their mothers name (UN Women Annual Report, 2014-2015). See below it is moving……
Medhat, N. (n.d.). Do Women in Egypt Actually want Equality? Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://egyptianstreets.com/2015/04/22/do-women-in-egypt-actually-want-equality/
Ross, M. (n.d.). Oil, Islam, and Women. American Political Science Review, 102(1).
UN Women Annual Report (2014-2015). (n.d.). http://Retrieved from http://annualreport.unwomen.org/en/2015
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef). Egypt: MENA gender equality profile status of girls and women in middle east and north africa. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2011, from http://www.unicef.org/gender/files/Egypt-Gender-Eqaulity-Profile-2011.pdf
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Gender Equality and Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://egypt.unfpa.org/english/Staticpage/2091d235-c9bf-45a9-88ad-295f00cf53a4/Gender_Equality_and_Human_Rights.aspx
USAID. Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from https://www.usaid.gov/egypt/gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment