This week there has been a focus on women’s rights and gender equality. In the spirit of promoting gender equality and to bring to light the different roles of women around the world, this article will focus on gender inequality in Egypt.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2015 ranked Egypt 136 out of 145 countries for gender inequality. This would place Egypt lower on the list than Oman and Saudi Arabia. The report is based on four main pillars: economic participation and opportunity, education, health, and political empowerment. In Egypt, women make up only 26 percent of the labour force with an annual income of US$5,218.00 compared to the 79 percent of men in the labour force, who earn an average of US$17,353.00. With respect to education, 82 percent of Egyptian men are literate compared to the 65% of women who are literate. With respect to political empowerment, 12 percent of women occupy ministerial positions compared to men who make up 88 percent.
Men and women are often subjected to different consequences under the law. For example in October last year a controversial bill was introduced in Egypt. This bill aimed to make the penalties for adultery the same for men and women. Currently, if a married woman is shown to have committed adultery she will serve two years in prison. If a married man is shown to have committed adultery he will serve 6 months in prison, however this is only if he is shown to have committed adultery in the house he shares with his wife. The law on adultery is just one of many examples of gender in equality under the law in Egypt.
Part of the problem concerns social attitudes. Inequalities are not always perceived as inequalities but rather are considered to be merely the reflection of the differences between a man and a woman. Women’s issues are also tarnished by western intervention. Hollywood and American TV shows have painted a view of western women as decadent and lacking in honour, and they are are valued for their body and nothing else.
However, since President Sisi took power there has been a small shift towards addressing gender inequalities. In the 2014 Constitution, there are several articles which favour women. There has also been an increase in organizations, such as OpAntiSH, Tahir Bodyguards, Shoft Taharrush, and HarassMap, which have created initiatives to protect women from sexual harassment and violence. So hopefully, with time, the gender inequality in Egypt will disappear and men and women will be equal.