A chance encounter with Egyptian feminism

Reem Abou Eid Founder of what she hopes will be Egypt's first feminist political

Founder of what she hopes will be Egypt's first feminist political party Reem Abou Eid and her son Youssef

This article first published 03/07/11


“Our aim is to develop the Egyptian woman, make sure she is educated, cultured, has a good level of life so she can raise children in a good way and join in building the new Egypt.” 


In our last night in Cairo we, like many others, were at Tahrir Square we saw the tents go up for the sit-in which still continues in protest at the police violence of last Tuesday.

As I walked through the crowd looking for people who could speak English to translate the slogans that were being chanted I met Reem Abou Eid, there with her early-teens son Youssef. Reem happens to be the founder of Egypt’s first feminist political party called The New Egyptian Woman.

Her voice is full of passion as she tells me about her party and its determination to make sure that women are equal partners in the post 25 January Egypt – just as they were during the heady days of the revolution.

Since then she has sent me the English version of the Party’s manifesto. It includes such practical points as providing awareness on the role women played in the revolution of 25 January, the elimination of illiteracy and advocating for changes to insurance and property laws. All the while making sure that the party is not perceived as ‘anti-male’ and respecting the role of religion in the country as a moral arbiter. Reem has her work cut out for her.

Indeed she is already facing her first hurdle in gathering the signed members needed to register a political party in Egypt. She has 400 so far but back at Tahrir she told me she was not happy about the ‘unfair’ change which raised the total needed from 50 to 5,000. In Australia the number needed for a federal party is 500, in the UK all you need to do is pay £150.

The obvious challenge is also all around us in the continual battle for Egypt. Reem, like so many others, was at Tahrir at that moment in time because she is shocked and saddened that police violence here was repeated. Other people talk of the ‘anti-revolution’ forces and former president Mubarak’s people paying provocateurs to cause disturbances so the police have to get involved.

“I’m so, so sad,” Reem told me referring to Tuesday's violence but she does not give up the fight. She and Youssef were there at the square in solidarity for hours before we spoke and were still there when I left.


Articles on the New Egyptian Woman Party in Arabic news