Egypt: activist Ziada, sad to say things better under Mubarak

Brotherhood doesn't love women; suffering crisis more

05 April, 13:15

Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian human rights activist and the director of the Ibn Khaldum Center for Democratic Studies Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian human rights activist and the director of the Ibn Khaldum Center for Democratic Studies

(by Luciana Borsatti) (ANSAmed) - MARSEILLE - Women are 'an integral part of Egyptian society' though they are suffering the most from the economic crisis which is getting worse every day in Egypt, said in an interview with ANSAmed Dalia Ziada, a human rights activist, blogger and the director of the Ibn Khaldum Center for Democratic Studies. Ziada is in Marseille to attend the Forum promoted by the Anna Lindh Foundation.

'Over 30% of women are 'caring women' like widows or divorcees who are working to support their families', said the activist. 'They work at a time when men are having a hard time finding a proper job'.

In the past, said Ziada, poor women benefited from measures supporting their businesses, which were sponsored by Suzanne Mubarak, wife of the president who was toppled in the January 25 revolution. Now 'they have no one sponsoring them', she said.

The activist, who was awarded a prize in 2010 by the Anna Lindh Foundation, told ANSAmed that 'it is sad to say that the situation for women was much better during the Mubarak era'. 'It was not the best possible but it was still better than today because there was a state which supported women's rights', she noted. 'Suzanne Mubarak was a women's rights activist before being the president's wife and a staunch supporter of new laws in favour of women', continued the activist. 'Now we have a regime which is very hostile to women, an extremist regime of the Muslim Brotherhood which doesn't like women, least of all in public life and the economy'. The regime is so hostile, the activist noted, that it accuses women of 'causing men's unemployment' based on the conviction that if they stayed home their jobs would go to men. 'However it's a problem of qualifications', noted Ziada, which has nothing to do with being women or men.

Ever since stepping into power, President Mohamed Morsi has started a sweeping campaign to abolish all laws supporting women, the activist also noted, on the grounds that they were passed under the Mubarak era and are therefore 'meaningless'.

Though it is true that many women close to the regime benefited from them, Ziada said that 'many programmes of the National Council for Women were aimed at poor women living in rural areas, and their objective was to enable them to help change the condition of their families'. This has been the aim pursued by the Ibn Khaldum center for a number of years in a project 'which has been successful but does not have any support now'.

Talking about genital mutilation, still a widespread practice in rural areas, she said 'the issue exists from previous eras and I, a sort of survivor, have always fought to abolish it. But we are threatened by the fact that the laws making this practice a crime could be abolished. The Muslim Brothers have started a major campaign among the poorest saying it is in agreement with Islamic customs, which is not true, and stating that people should be free to carry it out', she concluded. (ANSAmed)

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