They have been tumbled on, they have been harassed, they have faced disappointment after another, yet Egyptian women have set the example for positive participation and expressed their opinion in the referendum on the new constitution, defying all challenges that range from bombs to bullets.
Although Egyptian women participated eagerly in the January 25 Revolution, and were subjected to everything men went through, their position deteriorated greatly; they were underrepresented in the first parliament after the revolution, were treated like an object and a source of temptation during the former president’s reign, and eventually their country was classified as the worst place in the world for women by Thomson-Reuters. Yet, all that didn’t stop them from playing an active role in determining Egypt’s future through the referendum.
For those who followed the voting process today, women’s participation – middle aged and old from all social classes- was the main scene. Not only did they turn out in big numbers, but also they transformed a day into some sort of a festival. Video footages show many women in various electrical commissions in different areas in Cairo and other governorates dancing, singing, making trills of joy and praying for Egypt and its army. They outnumbered men, as if they were keener to show how strong and worthy to be more than half the society they are. They gave me hope!
Regardless of how they voted –yes or no – and regardless of their support to General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi; their participation in such a manner reflects their belief that their voices count and that they know they have the ability to save the country. It reflects how they will never abandon their right to be an effective partner in the society, a partner that is willing to risk their own safety so their children could have a better future. It’s the same incentive that prompted aged people to go out- even on their wheel chairs- to take part in this political process.