Islamists Win Egyptian Elections, Women Marginalized

Final results for the first parliamentary elections in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak was deposed have been tabulated. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has won the largest number of seats for the lower house of Parliament, 47 percent, and the hardline Islamist Al-Nour party 29 percent. The liberal New Wafd party won about 7 percent of the seats, placing third, and the secular Egyptian Bloc coalition came in fourth. The Revolution Continues coalition, which is mainly comprised of youth groups who led the pro-democratic protests, received only 7 seats.

Women will be scarcely represented. Women have won only about 8 seats, fewer than 2 percent of Egypt’s Parliament. Dalia Abdel Hamid, the gender officer at the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, described the results as “disastrous.” An activist who ran for Parliament, Dalia Ziada, recalls protesting in Tahrir Square with Egyptians of different beliefs, backgrounds and genders and now feels “betrayal from our companions.”

Islamists Prevail in Elections

Egyptians had voted in in three phases over six weeks to elect 498 members of the People’s Assembly. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), the military government that has been governing Egypt since Mubarak’s fall, will be appointing ten seats. Voter turnout was 54 percent in the polls, says the election commission.

Saad al-Katatni, a leading Muslim Brotherhood official who had previously sat in Egypt’s parliament as an independent, has been selected as speaker.

The elections results make it clear that Islamist will “wield major influence over a new constitution,” which parliament is now charged to draft. However, it will ultimately be the president who chooses the government, says the BBC’s Jon Leyne ,”so the winners of this election do not automatically take office.” A new president will be elected in June under a timetable set by the SCAF.

Electoral Quotas For Women in Arab Countries

A number of Arab countries including Tunisia and Iraq have electoral quotas to improve the likelihood of women being elected into Parliament. Such quotas were introduced in Egypt in 1979 but have been viewed with suspicion; as NPR notes, under Mubarak, quotas were seen as a way to “stack the Parliament unfairly.” With Islamist parties having won a majority in Parliament, women are rightfully concerned about what will happen in the drafting of the new constitution, especially with the Salafists — who have called for separate educational curricula for boys and girls and for women to be covered from head to foot — holding so many seats.

Overall, Arab women have made notable gains in some areas: According to Foreign Policy, there are more women than men enolled in universities in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Iran, Israel, Jordan and Kuwait; women comprise half the university students in Egypt. Women also hold  a quarter of the judgeships in the region. Fertility rates are declining, from 4 to 2.5 children per woman between 1992 and 2004, and rates for maternal mortality have also fallen, declining 59 percent from 1990 to 2008.

Despite all these changes, women in Egypt face “pervasive” sexual harassment; NPR cites a YouTube video that show Nawara Negm, a female activist who was recently attacked after being publicly critical of the SCAF. The  results of Egypt’s first democratic election mean that women in Egypt have a long road ahead of them to gain political and economic equality; that the fight for true equality and democracy in the country is far from over.

Related Care2 Coverage

Egypt: Archaeology vs. Politics?

Could Mubarak Get the Death Penalty?

Egypt Police Raid Offices of US and Other Human Rights Groups

 

Photo taken in February of 2011 in Tahrir Square by Al Jazeera English

302 comments

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Janice. You say:--

"I do not believe your assertion that HALF of all Islamic countries allow their women to work. Most of them do not even allow them to drive."

And this from a person who says she has an IQ of 170 ! You seem sorely to lack reading skills. I said that in many Muslim countries, women form half of the university population. And do a little research on your driving allegation. When you've done that you can come back and tell me that the KSA is the only Muslim country where women can't drive.

As for my language skills, I make a living as a translator and checking other people's translations. You can see my languages on my profile.

Lastly, the "I don't hate Muslims because I dated [an Islamic guy]" statement is totally redundant. It's an equivalent to saying "I'm not anti-semitic because one of my friends is a Jew".

Janice M.
Janice Ma4 years ago

@John,
I do not hate them. I dated an Islamic guy from India for a year and my only complaint about him was that he cheated at Monopoly. I do not believe your assertion that HALF of all Islamic countries allow their women to work. Most of them do not even allow them to drive. Also in some of the countries many of the women's rights are under siege, Egypt and Afghanistan for example. And by the way I have 170 IQ and speak besides English, Chinese, French and a little Russian. How about you?

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Janice M. Your brain has never been switched on. I live in a Muslim country and a large proportion of women work. Women form half of the university population in most Muslim countries.

Where does your hatred come from?

Janice M.
Janice Ma4 years ago

@John,
Dude, do you turn your brain off? It seems that way. I said that China only allows one child per family and that since Chinese believe that boys can make more money than girls some abandon their girl babies. This is not the reason Islamic women sometimes do it. They do it so that their daughters won't suffer the fate of being female in an Islamic culture. It has nothing to do with how much money they can make since in most Islamic cultures women are never allowed to go outside of the home and make money anyway. Read a little on these Islamic people that you're so enamored of!

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Poor Janice M.

"boys can make more money than girls and can support their parents better than girls"

Right. So you are saying that this is for economic reasons engendered by cultural mores. And in the societies of the coujntries that you are alleging that this is done to female girls too, it would be the same, no? Nothing to do with Islam, in other words.

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

Misogyny is very common, especially among uneducated people. Anyone who believes the "6000 year-old-earth" myth, for example or that it's ok to demand that everyone else follow YOUR religious beliefs or that evolution is false....these are uneducated people and far more likely to find a home among others like them---in the GOP!

Janice M.
Janice Ma4 years ago

@Pam,
That reminds me of a line that a women from another of Care2 websites came up with that I thought was really good, really appropriate, 'The republicans are all for laws except when it comes to protecting women'. She probably put it a bit better than that but that was the gist of it.

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

Because trollery is much more fun...especially when you dislike women.

Janice M.
Janice Ma4 years ago

@Pam,
Hi Pam, I know, but as with this republican classmate acquaintance of mine, I just keep trying. It's kind of like hitting my head against the wall. Of course, I also get a kick out of insulting him because he makes it so easy. It's so obvious he never reads. Why doesn't he read? Why can't I get people like him to read ANYTHING? I don't understand why they're so determined to remain ignorant of the true facts.

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

Janice, it should be obvious to you by now that you're talking to an ignorant troll who blows hard about everything and actually knows nothing.