My Current Heroine: Asmaa Mahfouz
Many readers have asked me to do a post on the latest happenings in Egypt. Instead of pontificating about the importance of human rights and democracy as the activist in me wants to do, I have decided to let Egyptian women speak for themselves. I am hoping that this post, in some small way, will amplify their voices.
Neda Agha-Soltan inadvertently and tragically became a face for the protests in Iran a couple of years ago thanks to YouTube. Young Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz has also risen in notoriety thanks to social media, although instead of her appearing on video as a casualty of an authoritarian government, she has posted footage of herself declaring her opposition to Egypt’s oppressive regime, a position that led her to co-found the April 6 Movement, an activist organization that heavily relies upon social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to disseminate their messages and organize collective action.
According to a New York Times piece by Mona El-Naggar, Asmaa Mahfouz was hesitant to post the video:
“I felt that doing this video may be too big a step for me, but then I thought: For how much longer will I continue to be afraid and hesitant? I had to do something,” she said.
She may have put herself in danger, as now she is undoubtedly a threat to the Mubarak regime. However, thanks to this courageous young woman and others like her, the world is watching Egypt.
What this all means for the status of women in Egypt after the dust settles is still undetermined. In other parts of Africa, transition from an oppressive regime has not always resulted in gains towards gender equality, however, if women like Asmaa Mahfouz refuse to remain silent, I have a feeling they will work unceasingly until they are able to enjoy the full array of rights to which they are entitled as human beings.
There are numerous online collections of photographs of women participating in the protests in Egypt. See for yourself:
Image from kateopolis