360 Degrees - women’s rights after the revolution

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Did the Egyptian revolution help or hinder  women’s rights? That was the latest question in RNW Arabic’s 360 Degrees project, organised in partnership with Cartoon Movement and media partners in the Arab region.  

The project aims to encourage people to look at the world from different perspectives. People are invited to tweet their views using a common hashtag: #360D. Artists from Cartoon Movement then create drawings based on the tweets that inspire them. 

Of course (NOT)!
Of course women’s rights increased, said several participants on Facebook and Twitter. Of course they decreased, said others.  Several people mentioned the new Egyptian constitution which virtually ignores women’s rights . But, say others, the revolution has people much more aware of the question.  

High expectations, nothing gained
The pessimistic view was the one most cartoonists chose to depict. For example @Hazem_Azim’s tweet: “After two years, we did not get the rights of those who died nor the rights of those who live.” This tweet inspired two cartoons by Anne Derenne: 



Not only women were pessimistic , many men who commented agreed that women’s rights decreased after the revolution. According to reader “Ehap Elbrolosy” neither total and unlimited rights for women nor total control are the solution. He concludes that women have not obtained the rights they deserve after the revolution. 

Iraqi cartoonist Saad Murtadha  was inspired to draw ‘Ladies first’ by Omar Ammar’s comment : “The rights of women have become a dream we all wish to come true"


Egyptian cartoonist Doaa El Adl was inspired by a very cricital Facebook comment from Rona Elgebaly: 

The new constitution’s articles do not talk about women’s rights or freedoms and do not respect the international treaties that protect her dignity. Therefore I see that if the constitution is implemented the woman will go backward again and things will get worse. There are articles that the constitution should have addressed and freedom should have been given to women in many issues. The new constitution does not give rights to the divorced woman nor the woman as the only breadwinner, and did not guarantee the female worker equal rights. The only thing it leads to is allowing 13-year-olds getting married. Many rights have been wasted that should have been protected.” 


Some readers angrily responded that a lack of women’s rights was not unique to the Islamic world. Another reader saw both sides of the discussion:
“They excluded women’s rights in the constitution and diminished her role in the parliament and shoura council, but despite that, women gained a lot after the revolution. The proof is the political and cultural participation that increased a lot after the revolution […] The more they repressed her the more active she got, in working and hoping for the better… the women of Egypt have come forward, keep an eye on them!”

Cartoonists: “Muslim woman = burqa” 
But whatever the opinion, for cartoonists from both Western and Arabic countries, it seems the simplest way to depict a Muslim woman is as a black burqa – here are a few of the burqa’ cartoons: