Women’s rights must not be left trailing in Egypt

Women’s rights must not be left trailing in Egypt
(Brussels, 25 January 2012) As Egypt prepares to mark the first anniversary of its uprising, Amnesty International has raised concerns that women’s rights continue to be marginalized in favour of other reforms. In response, the EU must use all its tools to promote the importance of securing women’s rights in the path towards genuine reform.
Before the parliamentary elections in November, Amnesty International conducted a survey asking political parties to sign a human rights manifesto, containing ten key pledges to measure their intention to deliver meaningful human rights reform. Fifteen of the main parties were contacted with over half declining to commit to equal rights for women. 
“It is encouraging to see that many of Egypt’s political parties engaged with the survey and were willing to sign up to pledges for change on combating torture, protecting slum residents' rights and ensuring fair trials”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. 
“Unfortunately, it seems that women’s rights are not always seen as human rights, thus fundamentally undermining the principle that equal rights are for all people, men and women alike.” Of those who responded, about half had reservations over the ninth pledge in the survey, which called for women’s human rights to be protected, including for women to be given equal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.
Mr Beger continued “The EU has previously issued strong rhetoric to support women’s rights in its external relations; it now must ensure that this message is reiterated at this crucial phase of Egypt’s transition”. Amnesty International believes that the EU must work with women’s human rights groups and women human rights defenders on the ground. It should open a dialogue between them and EU delegations, as well as Member States’ embassies in Egypt. 
EU representatives such as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton have frequently emphasised the importance of supporting women in countries that are undergoing a period of change. Amnesty International wants to ensure this sentiment is seriously echoed in all EU relations with Egypt as it continues its democratic transition. 
For interviews or further comment, please contact:-
Peter Clarke
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office, Amnesty International
Tel: +32 (0)2 548 2773      
More information about the survey can be found here: