Hibaaq Osman on how to Combat Violence Against Women after the Arab Spring

Posted on: April 27, 2012, by :

DLDwomen Conference 2011 - Day 2Karama Chair Hibaaq Osman attended the 7th DLD Women conference in Munich from June 23 – 25 and participated in the panel “Violence against Women – the Mother of All Issues,” alongside Pat Mitchell of the Paley Center for Media, Somaly Mam of the Somaly Mam Foundation, and journalist and lawyer Lorea Canales. Speaking of the new environment in the Arab region, Hibaaq discussed women’s leadership role in the revolutions and implications for women’s rights in the post-revolutionary political environment.

“The Arab spring has proven that women are absolutely part of society in a big way cause it was their voices…that brought the change,” she said. While women’s participation on the frontlines demonstrated to everyone watching courage, bravery, and conviction equal to that of men, Hibaaq pointed out how stark the contrast between the images of women seen in Tahrir Square during unrest in Egypt and what she’s witnessed recently. Describing how women and men slept side by side in tents in Tahrir Square with mutual respect and no reports of sexual harassment, she noted how society fully accepted women’s participation during the days of unrest, lauding them for their role in the protests and emphasizing how crucial they were to winning change. However, during a women’s protest just a few weeks later, a group of men appeared in Tahrir yelling derogatory remarks at the assembled women and putting down their demands. The conservatives have echoed this behavior, Hibaaq shared, revealing their wishes to repeal past victories women have been working toward for the last 30 years and tying these laws to Suzanne Mubarak in order to gain
popular support against them.

Looking ahead to coming challenges in Egypt’s political future and for women’s rights, Hibaaq shares, “The war in the Arab region is going to be on the constitution. Are the right laws to protect and promote women’s rights going to be there?” She commends women’s organizations for quickly adapting to the new environment, politicizing their actions, as opposed to focusing only on the growth of the movement itself, by coming together on specific issues and lobbying for women’s political participation and inclusion in key committees addressing the constitution.

“If anything, what people have gained so far is the hope that people can change,” she said.
The Digital Life Design Women Conference convened more than 500 participants from business, media, technology, society, health, education, politics, and science, and featured 150 high-profile speakers from across the globe.

To see video of the panel, “Violence Against Women: The Mother of All Issues,” please visit the DLD Women website here.

Image courtesy of Hubert Burda Media / DLD Conference