Egyptian Women for Change (Mesreyat Maa Al Tagheer)

Salma Shukrallah, Wednesday 27 Oct 2010

The EWC is a newly developed political network, established after ElBaradei’s call for change. Its founders - seasoned politicians and newcomers - have come together for economic and social change

The Egyptian Women for Change (EWC) is a political female network that developed in March 2010. The group was officially established after Mohammed ElBaradei’s call for change, but its main founders, which include Bothaina Kamel, Gamila Ismail, Shahenda Meqled and Azza Kamel, were already active together in many other political associations. Through their personal connections, these political activists brought together several other women, many of whom did not necessarily come from politics, but who became increasingly interested in political participation after the emergence of a women’s movement that calls for democratic reforms. According to one of the group’s founding members, Azza Kamel, “the EWC consists of all types of women, even housewives”.Its founding statement defines the EWC as a group of women from different types of professional and generational backgrounds, who desire to promote political, economic and social change. Yet, despite their claims of diversity, the women in the group are known for representing a particular class of women, namely of the middle and upper middle class. Some of their most outspoken and active members are known for their striking fashion choices – usually involving sparkling accessories and makeup – and for their efforts to follow the latest trends. However, despite their ‘en vogue’ look, they are also known to be very serious in their political involvement, never missing a political event or letting an issue slip by without taking action. The EWC also defines itself as an independent association but one that still works closely with the ElBaredai’s National Association for Change (NAC). Internally, the women appear to still be debating over just how closely to affiliate their organization with the NAC and ElBaradei. Some insist that the association was formed completely independently from ElBaradei’s movement, while others believe that it was mainly established in response to the fact that there were so few women representatives present on the day the NAC was formed. Group founder Bothaina Kamel says the group's formation “was an act of stubbornness…we did not like the fact that the group that went to meet ElBaradei at his place included very few women”. She added that the EWC founders felt a need to create an association that would consciously include women in all political spheres. Azza Kamel confirmed that the group’s activities are not limited to gender related issues but, rather, would be active in all political and social areas. Activities previously organized by the EWC includ a separate meeting with ElBaradei, collecting signatures on ElBardei’s statement, issuing a statement in support of the Turkish flotilla, issuing a statement in support of Gaza and against the siege, and organizing a demonstration in front of the Kuwaiti embassy condemning the deportation of Egyptian pro-ElBaradei activists.

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