Round two: Women take to the streets
"Last year, one thing for sure is that the numbers were very small. And there were many attacks by Salafis and there was harassment. We hope that this will not happen this year," said Sulaf Taha, a member of NWF and LEAD Coordinator at AUC.
The Independent Egyptian Women Union has also been helping in organizing of the march. The union is a council of eight members consisting of four men and four women, of which most are founding members. There is no hierarchy in the union and so all duties are divided equally among the members.
Samar Aly Yehia, one of the founding members of the Independent Egyptian Women Union spoke about the Union’s involvement in the organizing of the International Women’s Day march to be held on March 8. The march will commence at 4:30 pm starting at the Syndicate of Journalism all the way to the parliament.
Yehia said that their duties, as part of the march’s organizing committee, were to attend meetings, contribute to drafting statements, mobilizing, and creating chants, slogans, and other material to be used in the march. She said that they have called different newspapers and channels for media coverage and for the event to gain exposure.
For the first time, many pro-feminist organizations formulated a coalition for this cause. Almost all women's rights NGOs in addition to the April 6 youth movement have declared to be participating in this year's march. An important player is the New Woman Foundation (NWF) where their headquarters were used to hold meetings to discuss the event.
"They did not approach me per se, but they did spread the news that they are trying to get as much women groups as possible," said Alia Eshaq, a political science senior and the President of AUC's Women Empowerment Club (WEC). "I was very enthusiastic about the idea [of participating]. However due to logistical problems, we did not manage to be organizers but we definitely support it," said Eshaq.
The meeting point of the march is planned to be at the Syndicate of Journalism at 4 pm where everyone will march towards the parliament "where a list of demands of women's rights in this transitional phase will be submitted to al-Katatni," said Taha.
"Personally I have not decided yet [if I will participate in the march]. It's partly because I'm not Egyptian. And I don't know if, as a non-Egyptian, I should participate in it or not, given that it's an Egyptian matter," said Eshaq. She said that she sympathizes with the demands and that it is definitely a political march.
"We would like to have a percentage of the constitution to represent women. At least 50 percent," said Nevine Ebeid, member of the NWF.
Ebeid said that it is important for the participants and NGOs to organize themselves, an experience they acquire from the ongoing demonstrations since the revolution.
"I don't know how they will go about it this time, whether they'll be more implicit, whether they'll state their demands clearly but it's definitely political demands," said Eshaq. Eshaq was told by some of the organizers of the event that women are frightened by the huge branch of Salafis in the parliament.
Taha said that the future of the women of Egypt depends on what we can do about it. She explained that if women and others stood for their rights and fought for them, then they would win eventually.
"Women's rights are a part of a democratic society. In a democracy, all voices have to be taken into consideration. If we align women then we won't have a real democracy," said Taha. "Because women rights are human rights."