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  • Writer's pictureAmal Sedky Winter

Articles & Writings

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

Here is a collection of some of my writings, interviews or articles that highlight my work.

Articles & Features


Women in Egypt (For Eye on Egypt, 2010)

Drowning in alien images on satellite TV, bombarded by consumer goods,

and pressured by globalization, Egyptian society turns to its women to

preserve its “authenticity” and protect the community’s “inner domain” from

outside influences. Like it or not, Egyptian women find themselves at the

center of the country’s national identity.

In and outside the home, they represent the values of their families. How

they walk and talk, and who they walk and talk with, advertise their

fathers’, brothers’ and husbands’ social position. The length of their hems

and the styling of their hair, their clothing, baubles and bangles, instantly

identify their family’s socioeconomic status.

The core of Egyptian society is socially and religiously conservative—and,

above all, communal. Its family law codes dates back to 1920 are

unequivocally patriarchal; their basic premise being husbands will provide

for their families and wives will be subordinate to their wishes. Men have

an unconditional right to divorce. Women must have court approval to

terminate the marriage, usually granted only if they relinquish all financial

rights – including their dowry or prove that their husbands have been

abusive—an almost impossible feat.

Meanwhile, social pressure and the religious establishment perpetuate

strict gender-based divisions of roles citing the tradition that women have

the right to demand their husbands provide for them and their children, to

keep their own income and earnings for personal use, and to receive

money from their husbands when they fulfill their motherly responsibilities.

In reality, a large percentage of men are unemployed and women are

increasingly working outside the home. Field studies in poor

neighborhoods indicate that 40-50% of women are engage in some kind of

income generating activity. While their cottage industries have shrunk,

women still participate in the informal sales economy (bread, vegetables,

household goods) and work in the family businesses (repair shops,

grocery stalls, cell-phone stores).

Education is a barrier to women’s working in the formal sector. Although

96% of Egyptian children begin school at age six, only 20% remain by the

age of 15. Most of those who drop out come from poor families who need

older children to earn money for the family. Girls who are responsible for

vital household duties – babysitting sibling, preparing meals, and

collecting water – drop out of school more often than boys. Overcrowded

classrooms and lack of suitable bathrooms are especially discouraging.

Change is coming, albeit like many in changes in Egypt, very slowly.

Women were granted the right to divorce in 2002. Shortly later, Egyptian

women married to non-Egyptians were allowed to pass on their nationality

to their children and husbands can no longer prevent their wives travelling

abroad alone.

Public institutions including the Ministry of Justice is working to reform

personal status laws and the family court procedures and, civil society

organizations such as the National Council of Women and other women's

groups, continue to demand the reinterpretation of shari'a law (a legal

framework based on Islamic principles) to liberalize the status of women.

Change is also coming to the streets. A recent case of sexual harassment

like those once dismissed with a nod and a wink was met with three years of hard

labor for the offending and offensive young man.

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