Women’s rights groups plan May 1 protest

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CAIRO: The Alliance for Arab Women, which comprises women’s rights activists from across Egypt and the Arab world, is planning a women’s protest in Tahrir Square this Sunday, which coincides with the Egyptian Labor Day.

“What is going on at the moment in terms of marginalization of women needs a stand and the protest is to tell decision-makers that we are here and have to be put on the map,” said Hoda Badran, head of the Alliance for Arab Women.

“Furthermore, this ongoing campaign of referring to all the laws that grant women rights as ‘Suzanne’s laws’ and calling for their cancelation is completely unfair because we can’t personalize laws,” she explained.

Women’s rights activists have recently expressed their concern that the accomplishments in terms of women’s rights during the last 30 years may be washed away because of their association with former first lady Suzanne Mubarak.

Some people were even calling for the disbandment of the National Council for Women, which acted as a lobby for female rights as they directly associat it with the former first lady.

“These laws have been a step forward in the right direction and we have to continue down this path and pursue our rights,” said Badran.

Badran said that they will be in Tahrir Square with banners stating their different demands, which include not associating women’s issue with the former first lady and regime; not canceling any of the laws pertaining to women’s rights; and finally the participation of women in all forms of decision-making.

The Alliance For Arab Women is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works as an umbrella to a network of NGOs and cooperates with other Egyptian and Arab organizations to provide women with basic human security through influencing policies and legislations and through providing services and programs within the framework of human rights.

The network of NGOs for which AAW acts as an umbrella comprises 350 Egyptian civil society organizations. They participate in executing the various projects of AAW.

The protest is planned ?“for the women who want to achieve the principles of the revolution ‘Freedom, dignity, justice,’ for the women suffering and fighting at home and at work as well, for the women who can’t find a decent nursery for their children and for women who don’t have access to justice,” according to the AAW’s description of the May 1 event on their Facebook page.

The protest is scheduled to start at noon in Tahrir Square.

“The protest is part of the celebrations of Labor Day, as women issues are a crucial part of it and it’s the first time that this day is celebrated on the streets so we’ll be there with our slogans and many female workers,” explained Mozn Hassan, head of Nazra, a women’s rights group that is also taking part in the protest.

“We are there to have a presence as an [integral] part of the Egyptian society,” she noted.

This is not the first women’s protest to take place in Tahrir Sqaure. On March 8, a planned protest marking International Women’s Day calling for equality went awry as counter protesters infiltrated the protest chanting against and harassing the women, forcing some out of the square.

Scuffles broke out between female and male protesters, with men arguing that “now is not the time” for women to be calling for their rights.

“They mean not the time to call for individual demands, but women’s issues isn’t an individual demand, the female is half of the society,” Badran said referring to the incident.

However, Badran said it is unlikely that anything like this will happen again on May 1.

“The number of people who participated during the last protest wasn’t that big but this time we will have thousands coming out,” she said, pointing out that members of the different syndicates, organizations and families are coming out to support the cause and join the protest.

“We are fully prepared this time,” she said.




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