Report – Women Human Rights Defenders: Contextualising repression in Egypt


Read in:  Arabic 

Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in the Middle East have different experiences and face specific challenges and violations in their countries. Still, countries in the region have limitations when it comes to the participation of WHRDs in the political life and public space in general, as this challenges cultural, religious and social patterns of women’s role in their societies. The status of WHRDs in Egypt is not an exception in the region: they are victims of violations, especially sexual violence and moral blackmail based on their gender identity. The problems resulting from the political situation in Egypt are not the only obstacle affecting women’s participation in the public sphere. Other educational, cultural, religious and legal factors, economic and social conditions, all play a major role in determining women’s ability to participate in public affairs, and the nature of such participation.

Despite the long history of women’s participation in the public sphere, WHRDs have only become a priority of Egyptian civil society since the revolution of 25 January 2011, due to increasing violations and the multiple challenges they face. Since then, the situation of WHRDs has become a priority for the human rights movement and appropriate mobilisation has been created, including regarding their personal security.

This study explores the status of WHRDs in Egypt and describes the context in which violations occur, outlining their specific nature from a gender perspective. Furthermore, the study discusses changes that have taken place within the feminist / womanist discourse from the perspective of the relationship between rights, politics and intergenerational relations. Lastly, it presents recommendations on how to protect WHRDs and support their efforts to defend the women’s rights and fundamental freedoms.