EUSpring | Women's Rights in the Aftermath of Egypt's Revolution

26 August 2015
Mozn Hassan (Executive Director, Nazra for Feminist Studies)

Addressing the issue of “women’s rights” in Egypt may seem like an easy topic from a purely legal standpoint, but the most enlightening way to do so is to adopt a holistic approach by understanding the political, social, cultural and class effects of this issue.

Since 1952, people in Egypt have looked at “women’s rights” as a purely state matter, one characterised mainly by legal reforms. Until 2011, women’s rights were manipulated via a top-down approach by making changes in some policies and laws. Since 2011, with the emergence of the question of social movements, tackling women’s rights has been transformed via the use of certain tools and different perspectives. This is clearly manifested in the vast mobilisation that took place in governorates outside Cairo, which featured the use of artistic tools such as graffiti, story-telling performances, the production of feminist songs, open-microphone sessions, etc., in addition to the extensive use of social media and online campaigning to mainstream feminist ideologies and highlight violations experienced by women.

Before 2011, the public space in Egypt was limited to citizens, political groups and civil society for employing legal approaches such as litigations and policy changes by direct pressure on authorities. The 2011 revolution opened the public space to the use of new tools that are not limited to protests and sit-ins, but also new media windows and new political forces who carried the question of certain rights in their agendas as well as the accessibility of different governmental actors.

This paper will highlight different topics around women’s rights and gender issues in Egypt after 2011.

This paper will review different gender issues after 2011, including the targeting of women in public spaces, women’s representation in decision-making bodies, legal reform, economic and social rights, and sexual and reproductive rights. It will also investigate how the feminist movement has changed and evolved since 2011, and to what degree women's issues and feminism can be analysed in a multidisciplinary way.

This paper is published in the framework of the EUSpring project on Democracy and Citizenship in North Africa after the Arab Awakening: Challenges for EU and US Foreign Policy ( The project is carried out by a consortium of organisations, including the European Policy Centre, University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, the Centre for Mediterranean and International Studies in Tunisia and the Centre de Recherche sur l'Afrique et la Méditerranée in Morocco and coordinated by Università degli Studi L’Orientale in Naples. The project is supported by the Compagnia di San Paolo.