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Activists Challenge Egypt's Views On Women's Status in Society

Many woman activists in Egypt are challenging the sincerity of President Mohammed Morsi's recent announcement of a new intiative "to support the rights and freedoms of the Egyptian women," writes Daria Solovieva.
A woman, with the national flag covering part of her face, takes part in a protest rally against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood in front of the courthouse and the Attorney General's office, near Tahrir Square in Cairo March 8, 2013. The rally was organized by women and falls on International Women's Day.  REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3EQTA

On March 24, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi convened a meeting with women’s groups and activists at the presidential palace, where he announced a new initiative to “support the rights and freedoms of the Egyptian women.” Morsi, a former member of the guidance office of the Muslim Brotherhood, called for a “new system” to reach “solutions through a series of workshops” to discuss women’s issues with the government-run National Center for Social and Criminal Research.

Officially, the event was an Islamist president reaching out to the opposition and civil society following a rash of criticism of the ruling party’s conservative views on women’s role in society and the Muslim Brotherhood’s objection to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women earlier in March. For many, however, Morsi's effort was too little, too late. The government’s new initiative revealed a presidency that is struggling to understand women’s basic demands and economic needs.

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