A new dawn is rising in Egypt. Approximately two million people have gathered in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo to demand the end of the Mubarak regime. Among them are Global Fund for Women advisors and grantees who, together with their people, are raising their voices against injustice in their call for freedom, equality, and democracy. The revolution has swept across all Egyptian provinces and cities, even little villages, where on a daily basis for a week, women and men have taken to the streets in protest. The Global Fund for Women stands in solidarity with the brave women and men who are risking their lives to create a new country, one that respects human rights, justice and equality for all.
This revolution has been long in the making. Over the past few years, we have been receiving reports regularly from our grantee partners, like the Land Center for Human Rights, of strikes and protests in multiple districts across Egypt. They have informed us that the entire society—from workers in textile factories, to farmers and day laborers, to bloggers and students—are not only speaking up and demanding their rights, but enduring being arrested and beaten in the process.
Hundreds have been killed and over 1,000 people have been brutally injured by the police in response to peaceful demonstrations. Sadly, this savage response to peaceful protestors has been the Mubarak regime's approach since the 1970s when it imposed an emergency law to crush any dissent and political organizing. In recent years, the Mubarak regime has intensified its repression and torture. The government recently passed a law restricting the work of civil society organizations. Nadim Center, one of our grantees, has been documenting the torture of political dissidents, bloggers, and union organizers in Egyptian jails. Last July, an Egyptian youth, Khalid Said, was tortured to death in a police station. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented how the regime's brutality has intensified under the global war on terror. Furthermore, Mubarak’s rule has been marked by rigged elections, widespread corruption and human rights violations, including harassment and violence against women, which many of our grantee partners, including Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, and the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, have well-documented during their election monitoring in 2010 and in years past. Many western and Egyptian-government media are diverting attention away from the peaceful protests by focusing on looting. To the contrary, our advisors and grantees are reporting that people are quickly organizing into neighborhood committees to protect public and private property, even forming a human shield around the National Museum. What is not being reported by these news outlets is that many caught looting and inciting violence are actually Mubarak's secret police and hired thugs who have in the past rigged elections and attacked demonstrators. The media is also spotlighting the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist religious groups, when in fact the Muslim Brotherhood only recently joined the protests and only constitutes a segment of the opposition. What they are missing is that youth, including young women, are on the streets calling for a democratic non sectarian government and chanting for unity for a brighter future for all of Egypt's people.
The Global Fund for Women calls upon the United States and Egypt to fulfill the demands of the people calling for change and end to violence and retaliation. We believe that calls by the Obama administration for political and economic reform is too little, too late and is being interpreted as an endorsement of Mubarak and his policies, and against the Egyptian people's calls for democracy. People in Egypt are united under one slogan: THIS REGIME MUST END.
We call upon the US government to stand on the right side of history and support the Egyptian people's right to true democracy and freedom. The U.S. aid to Egypt (second to Israel in the region), including military weapons, has been used in the past and during the last few days against peaceful protestors. We as a nation must no longer support repression.
As supporters of women’s rights, we can play a significant role. We can:
- Spread the news to overcome the information blockades and mainstream messages;
- Write to our government representatives, newspapers, blogs, and other media venues, telling them we refuse to have our money used to back a dictator and suppress people's legitimate grievances;
- Protest in front of Egyptian embassies worldwide;
- Extend a hand of support to Egyptian civil society organizations to ensure that democracy and equality are the order of the day in the near future in Egypt; and 5. Support the Global Fund for Women’s capacity to continue to provide critical movement building support to women's groups in Egypt. Click here for information about groups we have funded since 1989.
As events unfold, we will continue to monitor the situation and extend our support and solidarity to our advisors and grantees in the country. We will remain committed to our ongoing human rights work and investment in sustaining the women’s rights movement in Egypt.