Egypt has always been a conflicted country regarding the treatment of women. The country has one of the longest histories of Arab feminist agitation, starting perhaps with the self-unveiling and political agitation of upper-class feminist activist Huda Shaarawi. Gamal abd al-Nasser’s policies during the 1950s and 60s are qualified today as ‘state feminism’; massive strides forward in women’s rights were advocated by the government (especially via welfare-state mechanisms) while independent feminist organizations were effectively banned. These policies were decidedly effective and resulted in high levels of employment for women, but this process collapsed in the 1970s coinciding with the economic liberalization of Egypt and Islamist resistance. For more information, see Mervat Hatem’s article, Economic and Political Liberation in Egypt and the Demise of State Feminism. Today, Egypt still has a relatively conservative populace on issues regarding women’s equality.
About MeNews producer. Blogger on politics and culture of the Middle East, specializing in issues of public diplomacy.
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