CAIRO: Egyptian women participated in large numbers during the first day of the presidential election Monday, in some cases even heading to voting stations at 7 a.m., two hours before polls were due to open.
The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR), a local organization monitoring the elections, said Monday that women were “leading the elections”, as 24 million women are entitled to vote—nearly half of all 53,909,306 eligible voters.
Also, the Lawyers Syndicate, which is monitoring elections, said it had tracked a high turnout of women voters, especially in rural areas. This has proven “their awareness and willingness to participate in choosing their next president,” said syndicate member Tarek Ibrahim in a press statement reported by El-Badil news website Monday.
“Women’s turnout was surprising in Cairo and Giza, as it is usually expected to be higher in other governorates,” ECWR Chairwoman Nehad Abo el-Komsan told Al-Nahar channel.
Additionally, the National Council for Women’s Rights (NCWR) posted pictures of women casting their votes, as well as celebrities and several posters with slogans encouraging women to vote and hotline numbers to file complaints with the NCWR.
No acts of violence against women were reported widely Monday evening, but some administrative problems like polling stations opening late and small quarrels in crowds were reported on social media. Women were generally seen wearing and carrying the flag, and dancing and celebrating, with many old women appearing on the streets.
“The Egyptian woman has responded to the national call and impressed the world once more,” said NCWR head Mervat al-Tallawy in a press statement Monday.
As for what women want out of their next head of state, ECWR organized a press conference on May 20 in participation with several women’s rights NGOs announcing a women’s “wish list” for the next president. Titled “Rights Not Promises”, the list requested a minimum 35 percent representation of women in all councils.
Women also wish to be economically and educationally empowered, in addition to having laws fighting gender discrimination and violence against women, Komsan added during the conference.
Since the 2011 January 25 Revolution, women’s participation in political events has increased significantly, whether in elections or in protests. At the same time, so have their political ambitions and demands regarding women’s issues.