In recent weeks, women have taken to the streets alongside men in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya and Yemen. In Tahrir Square women stood on the frontline and refused to go home. Elsewhere they have played a leading role in the protests, risking their lives to demand an end to corrupt leaders and authoritarianism.
Yet in Tunisia and Egypt, now that the revolutions are in the next stage, the real battle for women’s rights begins. Not one woman has a place on the panel that has been set up to draft Egypt’s new constitution. In Tunisia, hundreds of women have joined protests in response to threats that laws protecting women’s rights could be rescinded.
We believe that there can be no liberty if half the population are oppressed, and if women have no say. Women led the revolutions alongside men, and now they must enjoy the same rights. They must be equal citizens and must be able to take part in politics. We want to show our solidarity with the brave women of Tunisia, Egypt and all countries of the Middle East.
We are calling on all those who are building a new future for Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the region to respect the human rights of all citizens and to recognise women’s rightful seat at the table.
We are also calling on the UK government and all players in the wider international community to prove their commitment to women’s rights by clearly stating that revolution in the Middle East must benefit all citizens – not only those who are male.
Director, Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, London, UK.