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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Samar El Hussieny

Interviewed August 3, 2012

In the civil society community, it’s very usual to have women and to have them participating effectively, and they’re well-empowered, I think. But in the overall community, the Egyptian community, you find very low standards of women representation.

We have this balance – we have 50/50 percent women and men. And also when you go deeper, to the lower classes in Egypt, we find women oppressed. We will find them uneducated. And we’ll find them having problems with their families. They are not independent financially or even socially. But in the civil society field, this is kind of a very normal way, that women are there, mostly because most of us are coming from political oriented – political oriented families, so we are well-educated somehow, we are having a good knowledge and we have access to different practices around the world. We have this kind of awareness that enable us to go and participate and have our own vision and ideas about the future.

And in the – less than 2 percent in the parliament. And the – in the committee that’s supposed to write the constitution, it’s 3 percent – percentage, which is – it’s not right at all, actually. It’s kind of exclusion. We’re not there. And even the number of the women who are there in the parliament, they are not empowered. It’s just kind of having this decoration for the parliament to have 10 women or less. And also, two of them are assigned. They are not elected.

And during the election itself – during the elections you will find some of the political parties, they had women in their lists. And they made a press conference for all of these women. And one of the women who are supposed to go and run for the office, she said I believe that women shouldn’t run for office, and I believe that women – they are not well – they has – they doesn’t have a complete mind. Their lack of experience and their lack of mentality to go and run for office is something that men only can do.

We have different barriers. We kind of started with women themselves, they are not well confident that they can go and run for office. And we have another barrier concerns the culture in the society, that hardly accept a woman which is well-accomplished and is well-educated. And they will just say, OK, maybe you can just stay at home. And the third – the third one would be that people will not go and vote for women, maybe because of the culture ideas and also maybe because of the – some of the economic problems that women – some of the people in Egypt will think that if there is a woman who are going out and work, maybe a man can go and work.

But I do think that if we can do something concerns the culture part, this can solve the problem, because people will just understand that there is no kind of discrimination. We are all equal. And if a man can do something, woman also can do it. And you think when you find a very good model of womans or woman in the society, or even from the outside communities, which is well-accomplished, and you can present them to society; they will accept it. And they will try to interact with her.