Press release 25 February 2011
Revolution in the Middle ast must help not hinder women’s rights

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In Tunisia, hundreds of women have joined protests in response to threats that laws protecting women’s rights could be rescinded.

‘I and my colleagues are women who fled Iran after our revolution was hijacked by fundamentalists’ said Diana Nammi, IKWRO’s Director. ‘We became second class citizens – forced to wear the veil and to stay at home, unable to obtain a divorce or to inherit equal property to men, threatened with lashes and stoning. The women of today’s revolutions must not let the history of Iran repeat itself in their countries.’

‘The Arab world has endured decades of oppression under the likes of Mubarak and Ben Ali. If the new leaders try to oppress women they will have another revolution on their hands – a women’s revolution.’

IKWRO is calling on those who are building a new future for Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East to respect the human rights of all citizens and to recognise women’s rightful seat at the table.

‘We want to send out the message that there will not be liberty if half the population is oppressed, and if women have no say. Women led the revolution alongside men, and now they must enjoy the same rights. They must be equal citizens and must be able to take part in politics.’

IKWRO is also calling on the UK government and 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.

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