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Nawal El Saadawi: give women half of seats on new council

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Julie Tomlin
WVoN co-editor

Women should have half of the seats on the new council that Egyptian revolutionaries are demanding to replace the military council, claims prominent feminist and writer Nawal El Saadawi.

Revolutionary groups in Egypt have called for a campaign of civil disobedience starting on 11 February, unless the military council agrees to seven demands including that it step down and be replaced by a revolutionary council.

El Saadawi said women must make up 50 per cent of any council, committee or group to ensure that their interests are represented:

“Women should be 50 per cent and we need a new constitution that should say frankly that women are equal to men and we should apply international human rights law and anti discrimination standards inspired by international laws that make people equal,” said Saadawi.

The Egypt Revolutionaries’ Alliance – which was formed in the wake of clashes between protesters and police forces in Cairo last November brings together over 50 political groups including the April 6 Movement.

Its demands include that the interim government, led by SCAF-appointed (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) premier Kamal El-Ganzouri, be dismantled and replaced by a new body which would be selected by the People’s Assembly.

They are also demanding the formation of a special committee to investigate massacres and other crimes committed by the ruling authorities since 25 January 2011.

El Saadawi, who describes herself as the “spiritual godmother” of the Egyptian Women’s Union which was reformed last year, said the revolutionary movement needed to discover new creative methods after learning “a lot of lessons” in the year since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on last year on 11 February.

While there has been a great deal of focus on how women’s rights might be affected by the outcome of the recent elections, many of those who were involved in the 2011 uprising are still focusing on the need to oust the military regime which they believe is resisting the revolution (see WVoN story)

El Saadawi has claimed that the attacks on women on International Women’s Day in Tahrir Square last year, when men told them they should “go back home where they belong” (see WVoN story) were carried out by hired thugs.

Women will again be marching from the Syndicate of Journalists’ building to Tahrir square despite the violent treatment of protesters in recent weeks, she insisted.

“They are killing us – there is blood everywhere,” said El Saadawi. “We are facing death every minute but people are no more afraid of death.”

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