The Western media are used to depicting Arab and Muslim women as passive victims in need of forced liberation (justifying the war in Afghanistan). While the Egyptian revolution busted this and other myths, the New York Times was still puzzled by the active participation of women against the regime--and claimed they have been otherwise peripheral to the political process. While official political structures have excluded women, they have been at the heart of the revolutionary process--from the movements leading up to the January uprising, to the strikes and protests that have kept it going.
"Some 3,000 women garment workers stormed into the main spinning and weaving sheds and demanded that their male colleagues stop work. "Where are the men? Here are the women!" they chanted. Then 10,000 workers gathered in the factory courtyard and once again women were at the forefront."
“All the differences between Egyptians evaporated because of the revolution. Muslims and Christians were together, women and men were together. There was equality between all. The revolution washed away all the discriminations that was forced on us by the regime.”
“Women workers are demanding an end to discrimination in hiring and promotions, and want government-funded child care…On March 8, International Women’s Day, some 1,000 women and their male supporters rallied in Cairo to demand, among other things, that women be allowed to run for president and become judges.”
As socialist Hossam El-Hamalawy explained, the Brotherhood are not a homogeneous reactionary block as portrayed in the media. Their leadership support neo-liberalism and have tried to call off strikes and demonstrations, but much of the youth of their membership have been part of the revolution and can be won to more progressive politics. When the regime and its allies attacked the Revolutionary Socialists, numerous groups came to their defence.
But the march of women and the demonstration today show these attacks have only increased the determination of ordinary Egyptian women and men to unite and fight for a better world--of democracy, economic justice, and women's liberation.