Samira Ibrahim in Cairo, Egypt in May 2012.
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The former US president spoke about his efforts on gender equality at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
CAIRO, Egypt — The Tahrir Square atmosphere in early 2011 that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak provided a glimpse of an Egypt that could be. Despite the odds against, a vibrant and multifaceted women’s rights movement continues to grow in post-Tahrir Egypt.
But now, after Mubarak, after the elections which brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi into power, and after the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) disbanded the already shaky parliament (which only had eight women, out of over 500 seats) in a “soft coup,” the feminist situation may be more precarious than before the revolution.
Many secular women fear what it could mean that Egypt’s new first lady wears a veil, and that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and their political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, has democratically taken both the presidency and the parliament.
It’s still unknown what the future of the military will be and how much power they’ll have when the dust settles, including if they will be able to reinstate the “virginity tests” performed on female revolutionaries, outlawed last December after Samira Ibrahim filed a court case against practice after being subjected to one in March 2011.
As the door of opportunity for women hangs threateningly on its hinges, no one knows whether it will shut and leave Egyptian society behind as progress is made in other areas of North Africa, or if the strong and growing wind of feminism will blow it wide open, ushering in a new era.