Nadya Khalife writes about the transitional government in Egypt. Women have been left out of it:
The images of Egyptian men and women standing side-by-side in Cairo's Tahrir Square inspired and captured the attention of the world and shattered stereotypes about the restriction of women from political life.This is of course traditional. Some say that revolutions eat their sons but the daughters are always the first course in that celebration dinner. Khalife urges for women not to be left on the wayside in this new future of Egypt. I worry more that the new road might be paved with women if a strong stance is not taken.
But the exclusion of women from the political transition process questions that optimism.
No women are on the constitutional drafting committee and none of the newly appointed cabinet ministers is female.
The announcement during the protests of a civil society initiative to form a Committee of Wise Men confirmed the likelihood that women could be pushed to the sidelines again. A committee whose very name excludes women should have no place in this process. Some women's groups are calling on the military council to help establish a special committee to facilitate the full and meaningful participation of women.
This is because of the religious faction in Egypt and its power. The current Sharia-based laws aren't exactly gender-neutral, either:
In addition to ensuring women's participation, there will need to be a strong commitment during the transition period to protecting and promoting women's human rights by abolishing discriminatory laws and practices.
That means repealing family law provisions that discriminate against women and instead giving them equal rights in marriage, divorce, guardianship, custody and inheritance. New laws to make domestic violence and sexual harassment crimes should be adopted and enforced as well.
More also needs to be done to eradicate traditional practices that harm women's and girls' health, such as the country's high rates of female genital mutilation, which impacts between 80 and 90 percent of women. Past efforts by the Egyptian government to curb this practice have not been sufficient.