Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Demonstration for Women’s Rights

On the 8th of March –International Women’s Day–  the Confederation of Egyptian Women’s Organizations (تحالف المنظمات النسوية المصرية) convoked, like every year, a gathering. However, this time they decided that they wanted to make their demonstration march from the building of the journalists’ syndicate, along Talaat Harb Street, to the Tahrir Square in order to unite there with the steady residents of the “inner-circle” of the revolution. 

8th March Demonstration for Women's Rights

Demonstrations currently happen on a daily basis. The Egyptians need to talk and to scream their thoughts out aloud. People openly lament to have lost thirty years of their lives to a system which had curtailed all kinds of initiative. It seems that now, avalanches of demands and projects which had been held back over the last three decades are continuously discharged into Liberation Square.
Yet, not everybody is happy about the ongoing obstacles of the traffic. To be stuck for hours in the traffic jam and finally not to reach appointments is everybody’s fate at the moment. Nobody exactly knows when and where demonstrations are taking place. Where the traffic police is missing, citizens try to help to put some order back into the chaos of desperately honking vehicles. Sometimes groups of people stop cars in order to tell the drivers which streets presently are closed and which alternative way they might choose instead.
For the women’s rights demonstration, around fifty women and men had gathered in front of the building of the journalists’ syndicate. They assembled on the stairs while a lady handed out Egyptian flags to the participants. Then they briefly posed with their banderoles and posters for the photographers and journalists form the television and finally walked pacifically in their little circle towards Tahrir Square.
Very prominently, one of the organizers walked in front with a bunch of flowers in her arms for the martyrs of the revolution. The attractive tall women with her long black hair and white-framed sunglasses moved proudly on her high-heeled boots and continuously addressed the watchers with a charming smile. “Every man has to congratulate every woman on this day because this is the International Women’s Day!”, she kept repeating. 

8th March Demonstration for Women's Rights

The small group passed in front of the Swiss embassy, where the very young looking soldiers on guard,  with their enormous machine guns, curiously gazed at them. On their way, the protestors were asked about their demands by the people on the streets. Some of the men who were watching the demonstration concluded that they did not really understand “the problem”. Others were wondering what “those foreigners” wanted from the revolution. And finally a group of adolescents yelled that the Egyptian women are the best and most beautiful in the world anyway. 

A group of construction workers, with cigars between their lips, asked one of the girls who was carrying a poster with the line “Equality between Women and Men” what this was all about. She bravely turned around, held up her banner towards them and tried to give a short explanation. Unfortunately, they did not look very convinced after she had walked away. 

8th March Demonstration for Women's Rights

On the Tahrir Square, after the party had made their way through the honking cars, they were eagerly welcomed by the guardians of the steady revolution. “Rights now not tomorrow!”, they were chanting. And the women’s rights protestors answered with the slogan: “We want a civil state! Neither a military dictatorship nor a theocracy!”

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