When President Mohammed Morsi stood before the United Nations this year, he was asked about the status of women in his country and confronted with international concern regarding their status and the challenges they face. He responded to these concerns, saying that “Egyptian women have the same rights as men. There even are some men who ask to be guaranteed the same rights as women!”
Of course the President was joking. However, recent data shows the severity of the situation for women in Egypt and reveals Egypt to be first in the world as far as the deterioration of women’s rights. Those in attendance were not receptive to Morsi’s joke, finding this humor an inappropriate response to a very serious issue. The delegation hoped that President Morsi could present a plan outlining the methods and procedures intended to advance the position of women in Egypt as the first elected president after a revolution that demanded justice and equality.
The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights compiled this year’s status report on the status of Egyptian women but faced a number of challenges during the research process. The most notable of these challenges was the scarcity of information and statistics portraying the situation of women. Most writings expressed admiration for Egyptian women and their presence in society and astonishment at their participation in public work, from which they were absent for decades.
As for the approved research institutions, they are, like Egypt as a whole, facing many problems that made the intellectual production and monitoring so modest compared with the previous years. Therefore, there are neither statistics nor sufficient analytical writings available to help us. The center, like many human rights and women’s organizations in Egypt, was also under intense pressure from the Ministry of Social Affairs. The approval of many of the center’s programs was delayed by disagreements and attempts to limit the NGO’s activities or paralyze them. This situation made the report dependent upon a limited number of researchers who exerted tremendous efforts in research and documentation. The center hopes to introduce a useful report on Egyptian Women in 2012 despite these challenges.