In spite of the patriarchy that attempts to undermine Egyptian women, they’ve made remarkable achievements throughout history. These achievements speak volumes about their desire to create a society that is filled with equal opportunities and rights.
Feminism in Egypt is not a new concept. On the contrary, every achievement was built on iconic precedents set by different women such as Samira Moussa, Huda Sha’rawi, Nabaweya Moussa, Malak Hefni Nassef, and many others.
Hence, we compiled a list of Egyptian women’s achievements throughout the four feminist movements that showcases their efforts.
1950s: Get Yo Rights!
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The 1950s was considered by scholars a “golden era” for the advancement of women’s rights. One of the most important milestones is the 1956 constitution. It granted women the right to vote, stand in legislative elections, and run for public office.
1960s: Rihanna said Work Work Work!
After the first class of Egyptian women graduated university in 1933, educational and employment opportunities arose in the following decades. More girls than ever attended primary and secondary schools and had employment protection. Egyptian movies portrayed women in roles fighting for their rights.
1970s: My Body, My Rules!
One of the most prominent figures during the 1970s was feminist doctor and novelist Nawal El Saadawi. El Saadawi covered issues that were considered taboo such as women’s sexuality and female genital mutilation (FGM).
1980s: Independent Feminist Organizations Back on Track
The 1980s saw the strengthening of the feminist movement. Women’s rights organizations (like the New Woman Foundation) increased with a focus on the economic rights of women. Egypt also committed itself to battling discrimination against women by committing to CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) in 1981.
1990s: Women in Power
The 1990s saw a great increase in the participation of women in politics and parliamentary elections. Since 1995, there has been a dramatic increase in women holding office and positions throughout Egypt.
2000s: Sexual Harassment Awareness
Women’s rights organizations began focusing on the fight against sexual harassment. Whereby, initiatives and organizations such as Harassmap (founded in 2005) began to emerge. This awareness began to further develop throughout the years before the 2011 revolution erupted, which gave more power and confidence to women all over Egypt.
2010s: Revolutionizing Women, Soaring Voices!
The 2011 revolution sparked fervor in Egyptian women. They protested and made their voices heard. What was particularly exceptional about this achievement is that women from all classes, sects, and ages made sure their voices were heard, loud, and clear.
2020: #MeToo Movement! 9/10 women are victims of sexual assault.
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2020 sparked change for women empowerment in Egypt. Egyptian women began discussing their experiences with sexual assault and began shedding light on many topics that were considered taboos in earlier years. Women began openly discussing topics regarding their bodies, sexualities, and more!
Since 2006, we’ve had the honor of documenting all Egyptian women’s stories. May we continue to record more and more achievements for years to come. Happy International Women’s Day to all Egyptian women. Keep fighting the good fight!