Women’s issues in Egypt are sidelined by political and economic challenges
Women’s issues in Egypt have been pushed to the sidelines since the start of the Arab Spring, as the country grappled with political and economic instability in its aftermath, the director of Rice University’s Women’s Rights in the Middle East Program, Marwa Shalaby, says in an interview with World Politics Review. The significant progress that women achieved in fields such as health and education fail to translate, for instance, into increased female participation in the labor market, and Egypt still has one of the lowest rates worldwide. What further aggravates these issues, the researcher elaborates, are “restrictive social norms” that discourage women from certain fields such as business, tech, engineering, economics, and particularly from political life, where they would be able to “push for women’s rights and influence policy priorities.” Women currently hold 15% of the seats in the House of Representatives, which is under the regional average of 19%. Harassment and violence against women also remain prevalent, as existing laws are not strictly enforced, Shalaby states.