Karama Founder and Chair Hibaaq Osman participated at the third annual DLDwomen conference from July 11th to 12th, providing an update on her address during last year’s session and illuminating the implications of the Arab uprisings for women over a year later.
Ms. Osman spoke on the second day as part of a panel featuring international activists and leaders including Catalina Escobar (Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation), Edit Schlaffer (Women without Borders) and Jennifer Siebel Newsom (MissRepresentation.org) and was moderated by Pat Mitchell of the Paley Center for Media.
In answering Ms. Mitchell’s question on what has changed for women in Egypt, Ms. Osman highlighted the rise of conservatives as a potential threat, but also noted that the exclusion of women goes beyond right-wing politics. “It is easy for all of us to assume that it is only the conservatives that push women behind, but the fact of the matter was that the liberals and Democrats did not put women at the forefront.”
In Egypt, less than two percent of seats in the new assembly were filled by women following the November-December 2011 elections and women were completely excluded from the Constitutional Committee set up following Mubarak’s resignation.
By Feburary and March, Ms. Osman shared that, “Already conservatives were lobbying to take and repeal women’s rights. You would think these guys would’ve been talking about the two most important issues Egyptians wanted somebody to do something about: security and economics. They didn’t have time for this.”
The new Arab governments emerging post-revolution have shown signs that they are not committed to the values of democracy, freedom, security and equality espoused during the revolution. While she maintains that democracy without inclusion of women is hypocrisy, Ms. Osman also shares hope. “I have no reason to be negative…its only been seventeen months. The baby has just been born. You can’t expect it to walk and sing yet.”
During the panel, Ms. Osman also urged the audience to do their part in promoting the values of democracy and in first being conscious of and then combating their own hypocrisy. “In Europe, you cannot accept women being married at age fourteen or sixteen, but [if it is] in Afghanistan or Tunis, you look the other way.” Citing the video recently circulated depicting the public execution of a woman accused of adultery in Afghanistan and the sixteen billion dollars pledged by donor nations over four years for development aid to this nation, she called upon participants at DLDwomen and beyond to analyze where their tax dollars are going. “You need to ask yourself, how did I contribute to the death of this young woman?…Because we are holding you responsible…for supporting governments that are not committed to women’s rights and are not committed to equality.”
The session, which took place on July 12th in Munich, Germany, was part of a three-day conference sponsored by DLD Media, and hosted by DLDwomen co-founder and director, Steffi Czerny, and conference chair Dr. Maria Furtwängler. This year’s conference focused on the theme “New Values, New Rules,” exploring women’s empowerment as driven by new economics, globalization, technology and politics.
The conference features discussions, case studies and lectures and brought together over 50 international high-profile speakers and more than 500 participants, both women and men from business, media, technology, society, health, education, politics, and science.
To watch the panel, please click here