Alexandria, EGYPT – Karama and the Women and Development Association in Alexandria commemorated Egyptian Women’s Day by convening a one-day seminar to identify priorities for women’s rights in the constitution, build connections between members of the movement, and strengthen the lobby to promote adoption of key articles in the new Egyptian constitution.
The seminar entitled “What do Egyptian Women Want from the Constitution?” brought together 107 men and women NGO representatives, lawyers, and activists. Also in attendance were members of the “Alternative Parliament,” an initiative of the Women and Development Association that was launched after recent parliamentary elections marginalized women from participating as candidates. Seminar participants focused on the situation of Egyptian women after the revolution, exchanging perspectives and insights on women’s legal, political, and social status, as well as with regard to women’s safety and protections from violence in all its forms.
In light of the shifting political and social environment for women—marked by their nearly complete exclusion from the recently elected parliament (of which women comprise less than 2% of members) and sustained abuses including virginity testing and harassment—participants emphasized the importance of forming a pressure group who will be actively involved in lobbying for women’s representation in the constitution and ensuring that adopted articles go far enough in promoting, advancing, and preserving women’s rights.
At the end of the day, a number of recommendations were shared, including suggestions on the language of key articles proposed for inclusions in the new constitution. The Alternative Parliament will adopt these recommendations for submission to the Egyptian Parliament and government and continue to lobby for their integration in the final document.
Karama team members also attended the conference, sharing the need to further support the Alternative Parliament and its role in monitoring newly elected bodies. The seminar was held at the Ramada Hotel in Alexandria on March 20.