Statement of the Coalition of Women with the Revolution on International Women’s Day 2013
The voice of women is revolution
8 March 2013 - This year, International Women’s Day comes at a difficult time in the history of our country and our feminist movement as Egyptian women continue to fight for our revolutionary demands and the values of justice, equality, freedom, and dignity.
For the third year since the Egyptian revolution, we find ourselves unable to celebrate our accomplishments in the face of ongoing policies of oppression, injustice and aggression, faced by the men and women of our precious country. Nevertheless, we are determined to carry on our national and revolutionary struggle to achieve the demands of the revolution and build a nation that befits our country and ourselves.
On International Women’s Day 2011, just after we succeeded, together, in toppling Mubarak, we found ourselves living under military rule. Egyptian women, men, children, youth and the elderly continued to the revolutionary struggle, despite the manifold forms of oppression and brutality we faced—assaults, killings,blindings, stripping.... We focused our struggle on resisting the tyranny of the military, whose earliest abuses included assaults on women on International Women’s Day, 2011, followed the next day by the demeaning, brutal “virginity tests” to which Egyptian women revolutionaries were subjected. Later that year came the physical, psychological and sexual torture of women arrested during protests on Mohammed Mahmoud Street and in front of the Cabinet of Ministers building. Women came together to create the No Military Trials Group, exerting superhuman efforts to expose military trials of civilians and offer support and protection to victims of these trials.
By International Women’s Day 2012, we were in the midst of a struggle with the new regime, an alliance between the military and political Islamist forces. The challenges ahead were aptly illustrated by the composition and actions of the new parliament—a chamber with only a handful of female members and one that neither represented the majority of women in this country, nor expressed their political, social, economic, or human aspirations. In fact, parliament quickly began stripping away some of the rights won by Egyptian women through decades of struggle and toil. In turn, we poured our efforts into legal battles to prevent the loss of any of the rights of Egyptian women. We continued our struggle as Egypt’s new constitution was written, despite the exclusion and marginalization of experienced, qualified women from the constitution drafting committee. We proposed our own vision, though all of our proposed articles aimed at preserving the rights of women and those of all vulnerable, marginalized groups were disregarded. The flawed parliament excluded women and their input, along with other, diverse representatives of Egyptian society. The result was a flawed constitution, the product of a flawed drafting committee.
Now as we approach International Women’s Day 2013, we have rid ourselves of military rule only to find ourselves in another fire. The current regime has fulfilled none of the revolution’s demands: we have found neither bread—indeed, the regime is currently seeking to institute a bread allotment system—nor social justice, neither freedom nor human dignity. On the contrary, these days we witness only further oppression, deaths, and aggression, as a new alliance takes shape between the Muslim Brotherhood and the repressive police apparatus, which now targets activists with abduction, torture, and assassination. Women activists are targeted with sexual harassment and violence, including organized sexual torture, which reached its most violent in November 2012 and January 2013. In response, we, women and men, have formed groups to confront sexual harassment and expose these crimes, which contravene all international laws and conventions.
This year, we mark International Women’s Day having gained experience in peaceful struggles and legal battles alike and having bolstered our faith in our cause. We are determined to overcome the present moment for a future—a near future—when the principles of our revolution will be realized. We will continue to raise our voices demanding bread, freedom, social justice, and human dignity, motivated by our conviction that the voice of women is revolution.
Glory to the martyrs, our revolution continues.