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How can Egyptian women promote change in their country?

Question submitted by Deirdre, from Ohio, August 26, 2013

Answered by: Rachel B. Vogelstein, Senior Fellow and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program


While much has been made of the uncertainty amid Egypt's political turmoil, one thing is clear: the participation of women is critical to Egypt's future.

Women have been on the front lines of the revolutions sweeping the Middle East, including in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where they marched side by side with men. Today, women in Egypt continue to demand change and fight for their seat at the table, and a growing body of evidence supports the notion that women's full participation in the lives of their nations is critical to overall prosperity and stability.

Studies have shown that women's active participation in civil society, politics, and governance creates a more diverse approach to decision-making, which can strengthen policy outcomes and institutions. Evidence also suggests that women's economic participation benefits entire societies. The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, for example, demonstrates that countries are more prosperous where the gender gap is closest to being closed in areas such as education, health, political representation, and economic participation.

Despite this evidence, Egyptian women too often have been marginalized from post-revolutionary processes, and reports of politically motivated violence against women are rising. Women in Egypt, with men alongside them, are fighting back, and have even formed new groups—including Tahrir Bodyguard, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, and others—to expose harassment of women and shield them from violence.

As Egyptians grapple with a post-Morsi regime, the situation of women will be an important signal of the direction of Egypt's future.