Tag Archives: egypt

Reflections on WOMEN RISING


Ms Afropolitan shared her thoughts on the recent film we produced along with UNDP; WOMEN RISING: Poltical Leadership in Africa – we’re reblogging it here:

By MsAfropolitan/Minna Salami

I just watched Women Rising: Political Leadership in Africa, a documentary by FEMNET and UNDP and thought I’d share it with you all here (embedded below). To me, the need for more women in political leadership is possibly the most urgent task for the African feminist agenda. If women are not determining the future of Africa then the future will continue to disadvantage African women. Simple as.
You might be thinking, wait a minute, leadership is not only political, and women are moving forward in business, arts and other parts of public – and private – life. This is true yet we need more women in real, bonafide decision-making positions, roles that give women the power tochange the very foundation of the nation.

It took a Kenyan woman politician (Njoki Ndungu), for instance, to ensure the enactment of a Sexual Offences Law and in Rwanda, a gender-based violence bill was introduced into the parliament only after women were elected to nearly 50% of seats in 2006.

It follows that it is women ourselves who must take primary responsibility for ushering more women into positions of power and we must do so determinedly. The truth is African women have not taken enough measurements to secure seats in leadership positions today and are either absent or under-represented as a result. Nor have we sufficiently adapted the roles of Women Chiefs, Queen Mothers and other eminent women of ancient times in order to challenge structures and social attitudes that exclude women from leadership positions.
Sojourner Truth aptly said, “If women want more rights than they got, why don’t they take it and stop talking about taking it.”

The Women Rising documentary features women who indeed are taking it, if controversially at times.

It features President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, Boussaina Kamel, the very first female presidential aspirant of Egypt, Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, first female Speaker of the House in Uganda’s Parliament, Honorable Rabiaa Nejlaoui, youngest Member of Parliament in Tunisia, and Honorable Hlobisile Ndlovu, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Swaziland.

They share their their experiences and challenges running for office, their ambitions, their role models and their vision for a future of Africa with equal representation. I wish every young African girl can watch this and know that she too can become a future political leader.

What do you think readers?

Enjoy and share thoughts!


WOMEN RISING: Political Leadership in Africa


In Africa, as in the rest of the world, women are largely underrepresented in the political arena. However 2011 and 2012 saw an unprecedented number of female presidential candidates vying for office. 2012 also ushered in the second female Head of State as well as a female Chairperson of the African Union Commission for the very first time. Furthermore, Rwanda ranks highest in the world in terms of female representation in Parliament with over 50% representation.

Women Rising features President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Joyce Banda of Malawi amidst Boussaina Kamel, the very first female presidential aspirant of Egypt (2012), Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, first female Speaker of the House in Uganda’s Parliament, Honorable Rabiaa Nejlaoui, youngest Member of Parliament in Tunisia, and Honorable Hlobisile Ndlovu, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Swaziland.

These women leaders share their experiences and challenges running for office, their ambitions, their role models and their vision for a future of Africa with equal representation. All of those featured in Women Rising are trailblazers; women who have taken up the mantle and paved the way for others to follow suit. Is one born or made a leader? What are the lessons that can be learnt from those who have come before? What are the characteristics that lead to success in leadership? These are explored in Women Rising.

The documentary was commissioned jointly by FEMNET and UNDP and produced by InCA as part of a series on Women in Development in Africa.

©Copyright, 2013

Religion is no Excuse


57e3a041b462780f310f6a706700aabb                                           AP Photo/Courtesy of Awel el Kheit

By Mohammed Garain Elmi

“Conservative religious clerics and some government officials who blame women, saying they invite harassment and sexual abuse by mixing with men.” (Source). So what they’re saying is that men can’t control themselves. BUT the men want complete authority. Does this make sense?

Clearly and sadly, these males have been raised to believe that they can do anything they want to women, they then blame the women for what they have done and their uncivilized behavior.
It is sad how Muslims are abusing Islam, yet, they run around the world and preach that other people are the ones that makes Islam look bad. Where do men have the right to harass a mother or sister on the streets of a Muslim nation, in which chapter in the Qur’an is he permitted to do so? The Koran actually says that EVERY PERSON MUST read the Koran for themselves, in order to be a good Muslim. Therefore girls must be educated well enough to read the Koran. These men conveniently ignore that Koranic commandment because it goes against their culture and misogynistic ways.

The prophet Mohammed (PBUH) met his first wife when he accepted a job as HER employee, to go work as a manager of HER business. That is also conveniently glossed over by these men.
Again, local culture has warped and twisted the religion to their own selfish purpose. It’s about power, not about morality.

The masses of men over there have no jobs, no power, no money, no say and they take it out on the women, just like a man in the Western world who gets emasculated by his boss at work might come home and take it out on his wife. Those in charge want to keep it that way, for fear those men will turn that anger onto those in charge instead.

If Egypt’s unemployment rate went from 25% (with very few women working, so really it’s closer to over 50%) to 5%, a lot of this rage would go away…


Bothaina Kamel, Egypt’s First Female Presidential Candidate Speaks


Bothaina Kamel speaking during FEMNET's Third Regional Conference for African Women in Political Leadership

Dear Sisters,
Thank you very much for your kind invitation, I have the great honor. Being an African woman myself, I am so happy to be with you today in such a beautiful African country.
The concept of a network that allows people from different countries, cultures and origins to meet, share their concerns, work together against any kind of discrimination is such a noble idea.
It is always very useful and effective to share, think  and work together to grant a better future for our societies.
Discrimination is such an evil human practice that took different forms and shapes through the history of humankind all over the world. I believe that the most important target of our meeting here is to understand the mutual problems that women suffer from in Africa. More importantly, it is to address the different forms of discrimination against women that vary from one country to another due to the differences in culture, social nature and religion.
I come from Egypt, a great country that inspired the whole world with the revolution that removed our old regime, a revolution that unified all Egyptians, men and women, Muslims and Christians, poor and rich. I am proud of being an Arab Muslim woman that holds dear all the Muslim and Christian traditions and principles.
Yet, within the last few decades, Islam in Egypt has taken a new and wrongful form. In older times, the role of women was very effective and appreciated until a new wave of religious approach took place discriminating against Christians as well as suggesting more restrictions over Egyptian women; the way they dress, the way they think and act as well as against their very personal freedoms which coincide with human rights.
We can see now those women are receiving dictations by a new authority, the authority of men backed by a wrongful interpretation of our great religion. Dictations over freedom of speech, the right to assume public posts, and even the way women must dress and the way they appear in the society.
For the last two years, there has been a great struggle in Egypt concerning the right of women to  work in judicial posts, a great and strange ban that was never there before against women has taken place although it goes against the laws and constitution of Egypt.
We underwent a great struggle to face such discrimination that the Egyptian government had to appoint a few women to the Egyptian judiciary, but only on an exceptional basis. The struggle is ongoing as we speak.

For that reason, among many others, I made the decision to take the step, accept the challenge and run for presidency in my country. My decision was far from throwing a rock in the water, a very serious and well-planned campaign was adopted. I visited a big number of Egyptian villages and cities and was received with warmth and welcome.

On the other hand, a great deal of criticism and even sarcasm has taken place against my bid for presidency, but I can really say that with the help of the people who work with me, we managed to change those negative impressions into a great deal of respect. Had work and sincere intentions always generate respect, that is always my principle.
I am so proud that I have the role of changing the perception of women in my country. I always declare that I am against all kinds of discrimination. I always refer to the discrimination that took place in Egypt against the religious forces in our societies in the last regime. I always pledge that those who suffered discrimination must be the last ones to practice it themselves.
Still, I believe poverty is the biggest challenge, the number one challenge that is facing our societies and Africa as a whole. Sadly, our countries are full of fortunes and resources, and still poverty is our biggest problem. Needless to say that women are the part of society that suffer the most from poverty. The scene in Somalia nowadays is breaking all our hearts as we watch helpless women who are, by nature, taking charge of our sons and daughters, our new generations, are helplessly trying to save the very lives of their own babies. It is such a repeated scene that always goes without solution; we all must take up our roles to solve this problem, once and for all. Hunger doesn’t discriminate, but that is a huge price paid mostly by women due to the struggle of men over power.
I think that our goal in this honorable gathering is to create a specific mechanism to know how to fight poverty.
A public role that can be effective, successful, and able to actually change the sad reality of our continent will send also a message to the whole world that women are able to act, do and share seriously with a huge part in changing our society for a better future.
Instead of speaking about ourselves, let’s make our good work speak for us!

Thank you,
Bothaina Kamel
Egyptian Presidential Candidate
August, 2011

Film Screening, Discussion & Poetry


Please join us as we commemorate Democracy Day (Sep 15) and Right to Know Day (Sep 28)on
Education Theatre II
FILM SCREENING Egypt: We are Watching You
In his 2005 State of the Union address President Bush cited Egypt as the country that would pave the way for democracy in the Middle East. Three women, unable to sit by while their country is on the brink of drastic change, start a grassroots movement to educate and empower the public by raising awareness on the meaning of democracy. They name their campaign Shayfeen.com – “we are watching you.” This film follows the highs and lows of the first year of their movement in Egypt. Insisting that only the people can make change happen, their goal is to educate the Egyptian public on what it takes to build the most basic pillars of democracy: basic human rights, freedom of speech and the establishment of an independent judiciary. Egypt: We are Watching You highlights the importance of ordinary citizens participating in shaping and securing their democracy.

Followed by a discussion, facilitated by:
 Dr. Adams Oloo, Chairman of Department of Political Science & Public Administration
 Basil Ibrahim, Editorial Director, Imagine Company
 Carlyn Hambuba, Head of Communications, FEMNET

Poetry by Nebila




Africa has an unprecedented number of female presidential contestants in 2011-2012:
Cameroon: Kah Walla
Egypt: Bothaina Kamel
Kenya: Hon. Martha Karua
Senegal: Prof. Amsatou Sow Sidibe
Zambia: Hon. Edith Nawakwi

Simultaneously we have seen a regression in the proportion of women in Parliament in several member states such as Nigeria, Namibia and Botswana. Are States doing enough to ensure gender parity at all levels of political participation?

Article 29 of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections & Governance (2007) states that:
1. State Parties shall recognize the crucial role of women in development and strengthening of democracy.
2. State Parties shall create the necessary conditions for full and active participation of women in the decision-making processes and structures at all levels as a fundamental element in the promotion and exercise of a democratic culture.
3. State Parties shall take all possible measures to encourage the full and active participation of women in the electoral process and ensure gender parity in representation at all levels, including legislatures.

In commemoration of Democracy Day
September 15th, 2011



L’Afrique a un nombre sans précédent de femmes candidates présidentielles en 2011-2012:
Cameroun: Kah Walla
Egypte: Bothaina Kamel
Kenya: Hon. Martha Karua
Sénégal: Prof. Amsatou Sow Sidibe
Zambie: Hon. Edith Nawakwi

Au même moment, nous avons vu une régression dans la proportion des femmes au Parlement dans plusieurs Etats membres tels que le Nigeria, la Namibie et le Botswana. Les Etats sont-ils en train de faire assez pour garantir la parité sexuelle à tous les niveaux de participation politique?

L’Article 29 de la Charte Africaine sur la Démocratie, les Elections & la Gouvernance (2007) stipule que:
1. Les Etats partis reconnaîtront le rôle crucial de la femme dans le développement et dans le renforcement de la démocratie.
2. Les Etats partis créeront les conditions nécessaires à la pleine et active participation de la femme aux processus et structures de prise de décisions à tous les niveaux en tant qu’élément fondamental dans la promotion et dans l’exercice d’une culture démocratique.
3. Les Etats partis prendront toutes les mesures possibles pour encourager la pleine et active participation de la femme au processus électoral et garantir la parité sexuelle dans la représentation à tous les niveaux, y compris les législatures.

En commémoration de la Journée de la Démocratie
Le 15 septembre 2011

Democracy is in the Air/ La Democratie se Balance



Three African nations, namely Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have recently undergone revolutions, overturning undemocratic and authoritarian governments that have been in power for decades without the consent of their people.

“You can tear a flower, but you can’t stop spring from coming!”
-Tunisian Activist

Article 4 of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections & Governance (2007) says:
1. State Parties shall commit themselves to promote democracy, the principle of the rule of law and human rights.
2. State Parties shall recognize popular participation through universal suffrage as the inalienable right of the people.

In commemoration of Democracy Day
September 15th, 2011



Trois nations africaines, à savoir la Tunisie, l’Egypte et la Libye viennent de vivre des révolutions, en renversant des gouvernements non démocratiques et autoritaires qui ont été au pouvoir pendant des décennies sans le consentement de leurs gens.

« On peut détruire une fleur, mais on ne peut pas empêcher l’avènement du printemps! »
-Activiste tunisien

L’Article 4 de la Charte Africaine sur la Démocratie, les Elections & la Gouvernance (2007) stipule:

1. Les Etats partis s’engageront à promouvoir la démocratie, le principe d’état de droit et les droits humains.
2. Les Etats partis reconnaîtront la participation populaire à travers le suffrage universel en tant que droit inaliénable des gens.

En commémoration de la Journée de la Démocratie
Le 15 septembre 2011