Because women were left off the committee to revise the constitution, many worry that their demands will not be heard in a post-Mubarak Egypt. In order to prevent that, a number of activists–men and women–are planning a Million Woman March for 3PM on Tuesday, 8 March (which is also International Women’s Day) in Tahrir Square.
“This is a continuation of the revolution,” said one of the organizers, Aalam Wassef last night in Tahrir, where he planned to spend the night. “We don’t fear that women will be left out, we know they will be,” said Wassef. The highlighting of women’s rights, according to Wassef, builds upon the solidarity that was a major characteristic of the revolution, and also, most believe, a key to its success. “Everyone participated,” Wassef said. “Everything was celebrated.”
Yasmine Khalifa, an AUC graduate student in Womens Studies and another organizer, chimed in: “The slogan during the revolution was political, but it was also about solidarity.”
Women’s rights are a natural topic now that Mubarak has resigned and Egyptians can focus on more specific issues. One thing that Wassef and Khalifa are concerned about, and that will be highlighted in the Million Woman March, is the scrutiny of martyr Sally Zahran. In the photo of Zahran widely circulated following her murder, which has become a symbol of the regime’s brutality, she is unveiled. According to Wassef and Khalifa, many criticize her for that, as well as bring into question the specifics of her death: was she really in Tahrir? That kind of suspicion is not something that either activist has witnessed being leveled on male martyrs, and is something they plan to address on Tuesday. “A martyr is a martyr, full stop,” Wassef said. “With Sally, it became a question of character,” added Khalifa.
On Tuesday, signs carried by protesters will celebrate women on an individual basis–as a sign-holder’s sister, mother, or daughter–as well as the collective desires of Egyptian women. Foremost among those (which include demands of the revolution as a whole, like the ending of Emergency Law) are the abolishment of Article 2 of the constitution, which cites sharia law as the main source of legislation. In a religious government, women’s rights are nullified, said Wassef and Khalifa.
The march will be women saying, “We are together, we are united. We are women who stand together, “Khalifa said. During the revolution, “We felt it. We lived it. And now it will be verbalized,” said Wassef.
The Million Woman March will mark the beginning of a stretch devoted to the advancement of women’s rights in Egypt, an ongoing cause punctuated by International Women’s Day as well as Egyptian Women’s Day (16 March) and Mother’s Day (22 March). The march is being organized on Facebook.