Feminist Perspectives on the Egyptian Revolution

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen


The Egyptian Revolution 2011 created a space and opportunity to forward important demands concerning different social and political issues, amongst these matters related to women's status and situations in the society. Feminist and women's rights proponents in Egypt conceptualize the aims of a feminist or women's rights agenda as (women's) human rights and citizen's rights, independence, freedom and choice, though such universal concepts are understood in accordance with particular cultural or individual contexts. Feminist struggles must be seen in the cultural and social environment in which they take place in order to be properly understood. Feminist struggles in Egypt takes place in an overarching religious context. Religion constitutes a source of legitimacy in the Egyptian society and feminist activists appropriate religious language to pose their political demands and to make them comprehensible at a local level. Feminist demands are generally brought forward strategically, in order to achieve acceptance and enhance cultural legitimacy. A patriarchal culture is perceived as the main obstacle to advance women's status and situations. For that reason, addressing and changing that patriarchal culture is seen as the main objective for feminist struggles. Individual agency is highlighted in this respect. The interest and responsibility of securing and forwarding women's rights is mainly perceived to lay in the hands of feminist activists and women's rights groups themselves. The Egyptian Revolution was an outcome of individual and collective agency. In the revolution, women may have enacted more of a public agency than an individual agency to realize their interests. During the revolution women transcended gender roles and exposed some images of women as stereotypes. The Egyptian Revolution broke a barrier of fear in the society and invoked in men and women a sense of dignity and rights. The post-revolutionary public and political discourse constituted a backlash for women's rights, but it may also have produced a renewed interest for feminist struggles and women's rights. After the revolution, the participation in the society may have increased and men and women might not be as easily intimidated as before.  

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