PHOTO GALLERY: Egyptian women demand equality outside presidential palace

Ahram Youth Website, Ahram Online, Friday 5 Oct 2012

A broad coalition of women's groups protested draft articles of the new constitution which they say jeopardise equal rights in a future Egypt

Women's protest outside the Presidential Palace (Photo: Bawabet Al-Shabab - Al-Ahram youth website)

Hundreds of women protested outside the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis, Cairo on Thursday to voice their rejection of various proposed articles addressing women's issues in the draft constitution.

A coalition of 33 women's rights organisation and initiatives, accompanied with by some male supporters, protested in front of the palace for a couple of hours on Thursday night.

"We came here today to announce our rejection of the abuse of women's rights. I also refuse the proposals of Islamists in the constitution drafting committee who want to allow the marriage of girls from age nine," Gameela Ismail, political activist told Ahram Youth website.

Other protester, Amany Ibrahim, a member of the Free Egyptian Party, talked about disputed Article 36: "It is not precise as it says there is no discrimination between men and women, except in that which contradicts with God's law," Ibrahim told Ahram Youth website.

In a joint statement signed by all participants, the coalition demands that a law criminalising sexual harassment be included in the upcoming constitution currently being drafted.

"The struggle for Egyptian women's social, economic and political rights is not a new phenomenon. It is not a fad, or importing ideas from the west, as opponents of women's freedom and progress in society say it is," the statement stated.

Women's rights, it continues, are an "integral part of human rights", adding that there is a long history of women's efforts, alongside men, that were central to standing up against colonialism.

Groups who took part in the march include the Egyptian Women's Federation (a coalition of 15 organisations), the National Front for Egypt's Women, the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, and the Egyptian Foundation for Family Development.

Recent initiatives working to track and eliminate harassment of women in Egypt also attended, including Fouda Watch initiative 'Let's Write Our Constitution' and 'the Popular Campaign against Sexual Harassment'.

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