Thursday, 14 November 2013

Women's Rights in the Arab World - Egypt worst country for women

Women were supposed to be one of the prime beneficiaries of the Arab Spring, but they have instead been some of the biggest losers, as the revolts have brought conflict, instability, displacement and a rise in Islamist groups in many parts of the region, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Thomson Reuters Foundation's third annual poll of gender experts gives a snapshot of the state of women's rights in Arab states three years after the Arab Spring and as Syria's conflict threatens further regional upheaval. Surprisingly, Egypt tops the list of 22 Arab states as the worst country for women. Yes,  Egypt!  Not Syria, Yemen, Somalia or Saudi Arabia as you might have expected, but Egypt. The country achieved such dismal position in the poll because of
sexual harassment, high rates of female genital cutting and a surge in violence and Islamist feeling after the revolution toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

"We removed the Mubarak from our presidential palace but we still have to remove the Mubarak who lives in our minds and in our bedrooms," Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy says in an article about the poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"As the miserable poll results show, we women need a double revolution, one against the various dictators who've ruined our countries and the other against a toxic mix of culture and religion that ruin our lives as women."

Iraq ranked second-worst after Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. Comoros, where women hold 20 percent of ministerial positions and where wives generally keep land or the home after divorce, came out on top, followed by Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar.

The poll by Thomson Reuters' philanthropic arm surveyed 336 gender experts in August and September in 21 Arab League states and Syria, which was a founding member of the Arab League but was suspended in 2011.

The poll assessed violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.

Visit this page for full coverage of the poll and for more information, read this great article by RTF's Tim Large.

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