Women in Egypt - History

Women in Egypt - History


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Women Egypt


Women had equal legal rights as men in ancient Egypt. Their property and inheritance were theirs to keep. When it came to working however, woman mostly stayed at home. They could function as priestess's and as even become Phaorah.
The most famous being Hatshepsut.

Monogamy was the order of the day, but a man could take a second wife if his first wife was infertile. Pharoahs could have harems.


Women empowerment in Egypt: long history, gov'tal strategy

CAIRO – 15 March 2019: Egypt’s women have always been its trumping card. For so many years Women have played a key role in all sectors on all levels you even won’t find an Egyptian revolution without a clear footprint for women in it, starting with 1919 revolution against the British occupation back then, which was led by political activist Safiya Zaghloul, until June 2013.

Apart of their political contribution, Egyptian women have always been able to adapt different and tough social situations. As for years, women have done a lot in silence. Some of them got the chance to be known and recognized meanwhile others remained in the shadow without even waiting to be discovered in anyway. For example, in 2015, media reports shed light on a woman called Sisa Abu Doh, who used to dress like a man in Upper Egypt for more than 40 years just to make her living. Later president Abdel Fatah al Sisi met her saying “You have honored all Egyptian men and women”.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi honored huge number of women, who were described as ‘social fighters’. 2017 was decided to be named, ‘the women’s year’ as recognition for what they did for their country.

On March 13, head of Egypt's National Council for Women (NCW) and political scientist Maya Morsi delivered a speech during the opening of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which took place at the United Nations Headquarters.

The annual two-week session of the Commission brought together representatives of the United Nations, the UN Member States, as well as organizations and advocates from around the world to discuss the status of women.

NCW head Morsi delivers speech at 63rd Status of Women Commission

President of Egypt's National Council for Women (NCW) and political scientist Maya Morsi delivered a speech during the opening of the 63 rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which took place at the United Nations Headquarters.

In her presentation, Morsi talked in detail about Egypt’s strategy towards women empowerment, which included six main axes: “Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development, financing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, women’s leadership and their full and equal participation in decision-making, strengthening gender-responsive data collection, follow-up and review processes, enhancing national institutional arrangements and good practices.”

Legal wise, Egypt’s 2014 constitution enhanced the legal framework for women as for the first time, 20 articles dedicated to addressing women's issues regarding : “ensure equal opportunities for women, transfer the nationality to their children, allocate a quarter of the seats of local councils for women, social, economic and political rights, social security services , prevent discrimination , protection against all forms of violence, women's empowerment, commitment to care at various stages of the lives and commitment to the international conventions on human rights, which all includes the rights for women.”

Setting strategies, women always had the priority as nearly up to five governmental strategies were announced during the past years for Women empowerment including: “Egypt’s Vision 2030, National Strategy for the empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030, National Strategy to combat Violence against women (VAW), National Strategy to combat Female genital mutilation (FGM), and the National Strategy to combat Child Marriage.”

In March 2017, Sisi announced and endorsed the national strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women to be the national policy and guiding document for the government.

Among the efforts done for women empowerment was: dedicating amounts from the national budget for Childcare Services, and for supporting female breadwinners and poor families.

A total of 38 million women were announced by the government to benefit from bread and flour subsidies 34 million women benefited from food ration cards 10 million women benefited from health care support 8 million benefited women from family and reproductive health services 2.1 million women benefited from SMEs loans and finally 89 percent of women were benefiting from social protection programs, According to Morsi’s presentation.

Egypt’s government has recently taken concrete strategic steps to enhance the financial inclusion for women such as: “presidential decree has been issued in Feb 2017 to establish a National Council for Payments, with the President of the Republic being the head of the Council. Also, celebrating the First ever year (2017) of women in Egypt and activating the Economic empowerment pillar in the National Women strategy 2030,The National council for Women signed a Memorandum of understanding with the Central bank of Egypt (CBE) which places Egypt as the first Country to have its CBE sign an agreement with a National Women machinery worldwide.”

Egypt is the first Arab country and the second globally to develop a certification program for government and private sector based on the success of the gender equality seal.

The Seal provides Egyptian companies guidance on how to address challenges for women, such as access to work, wage inequities, sexual harassment, work-life balance and access to leadership positions. Nearly Private sector companies have undergone a thorough process of assessment.

In 2019, the first agency to be granted the seal was announced to be Egypt’s medium, small and micro enterprises development agency (MSMEDA). The Egyptian private sector companies have started implementing Women Empowerment principles.

Morsi said in a statement issued March 6 that this accomplishment is an international recognition of the Egyptian entities’ efforts with regards to gender equality. According to the statement, “an assessment team consisting of gender experts from the UNDP and the National Council for women has worked on assessing MSMEDA based on 6 major criteria”.

“This assessment tool helps assessing the gender mainstreaming criteria in a number of public and private sectors within Egypt in the current period to help benefit from the resources and opportunities available to women’s economic and social empowerment,” Morsy explained.


Cleopatra VII (69–30 B.C.)

Print Collector / Getty Images

Cleopatra VII, the daughter of Ptolemy XII, became pharaoh when she was about 17 years old, first serving as co-regent with her brother Ptolemy XIII, who was only 10 at the time. The Ptolemies were descendants of a Macedonian general of Alexander the Great's army. During the Ptolemaic dynasty, several other women named Cleopatra served as regents.

Acting in the name of Ptolemy, a group of senior advisers ousted Cleopatra from power, and she was forced to flee the country in 49 B.C. But she was determined to regain the post. She raised an army of mercenaries and sought the backing of Roman leader Julius Caesar. With Rome's military might, Cleopatra vanquished her brother's forces and regained control of Egypt.

Cleopatra and Julius Caesar became romantically involved, and she bore him a son. Later, after Caesar was murdered in Italy, Cleopatra aligned herself with his successor, Marc Antony. Cleopatra continued to rule Egypt until Antony was overthrown by rivals in Rome. Following a brutal military defeat, the two killed themselves, and Egypt fell to Roman rule.


In early Egyptian history (see Ancient Egypt), women's position in Egyptian society is believed to have been equal to that of men. For example, female gods played a vital role in ancient Egyptian religion, roles which can be identified as being of equal importance to that of male gods. Goddesses such as Mut, Isis and Hathor ruled over and controlled many areas of human activity. [1] It is believed by many scholars that the high status of such goddesses is indicative of the high status of women in Pharaonic society. Equal status can be further illustrated by the very fact that Egypt was ruled by queens – female pharaohs such as Sobekneferu, Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII, regents such as Meritneith or Ahmose-Nefertari or holders of the prestigious title God's Wife of Amun during the Late Period. Since their position was largely hereditary, women of commoner background such as the physicians Merit-Ptah and Peseshet, the vizier Nebet or the scribe Irtyrau are better examples of women's position in Egypt. Examples of early Egyptian art-work are also important in identifying the position enjoyed by women. Paintings of the earlier eras show men and women as being of equal size. [1] Kumari Jeyawordena claims that it is only after "2000 BC that women are often depicted somewhat smaller than males probably indicating a diminution of their status". [1]

Western rule Edit

Foreign control of Egypt was the status quo of the country's leadership for many centuries. Control of the country has ranged from early Roman domination, to the country becoming an Arab conquest in the 7th century, and then in the 16th century becoming part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. (see History of Egypt, Egypt). However it was the French invasion of Egypt which began to change the position of women in Egyptian society and which influenced the beginnings of social change in the country.

The French Invasion of Egypt led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 was to have significant social implications on the country. For the French invasion "caused a rapid flow of European ideas into Egypt including the ideology of the French Revolution". [1] Marriages took place between French officers and Egyptian women. There were also "cases of Egyptian women imitating the behavior and dress of the women of the expedition". [2] Such ideas and beliefs were not however welcomed by all in Egypt. As a result, a backlash emerged against such western ideas. The historian al Jabarti reportedly commented on the "pernicious innovations and corruption of women caused by the French occupation". [1]

Following a series of civil wars [ clarification needed ] , Egypt saw the end of the French rule. Albanian General Muhammad Ali (see Muhammad Ali's seizure of power) established authority in Egypt in 1805 and was appointed as Ottoman viceroy. During his time in power a series of modernization reforms were introduced in Egypt. Reforms included updating public works and improving the industrialization of Egypt and importantly included a series of reforms within education. Although he generally regarded "education as a means of fitting young men for the public service", [1] advancements were also made in the education of women. Daughters of the upper classes in Egypt of the time were able to receive education at home, however poorer girls were able to attend Kuttabs where the Qur'an was taught along with some reading and writing. In 1832 Muhammad Ali went on to build a school at which girls and women were taught to be midwives. [1] Further improvements to women's position within Egyptian society were introduced by Isma'il Pasha known as Ismail the Magnificent (December 31, 1830 – March 2, 1895), Muhammad Ali's successor. In 1873, his third wife, Jashem Afet Hanum, started the Suyliyya Girls School which provided teaching to girls of a variety of subjects ranging from history and religion to arithmetic. [1] Female education did however remain restrictive. According to Abdel Kadar, "the purpose was restricted to preparing girls to be efficient mothers and good wives, and it was mainly the girls of bourgeois families who benefited". [3]

Despite both social and economic reforms and further improvements made by Isma'il Pasha, Egypt had fallen heavily in debt to European powers and in order to protect its financial interests, particularly those in the Suez Canal, the UK seized control of the Egyptian government (1882).

Opposition against foreign intervention, particularly against the British occupation of Egypt began to grow. A reaction against Western influence and social and economic dissatisfaction led to the emergence of the Nationalist movement. Reformism and therefore feminism, which were originally closely linked, began to diverge.

The start of the 20th century saw a growing national consciousness. "The overwhelming presence of Europe and the collapse of much of the traditional order led to a reconsideration of Egypt's own position and identity in relation to the west. National independence seemed to supply the answer to western domination". [4] A growing dissatisfaction with Egyptian society began to emerge and with it came calls for reform. The improvement of the position of women was part of this reform. "Since the end of the nineteenth century Egyptian Nationalists have claimed that there can be no improvement of the state without improving the position of women." [4]

Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement. The Wafd was the first organised mass party in Egypt. Although Zaghlul and the Wafd gained a majority in the Legislative Assembly, this did not stop the British government from exiling Zaghlul and some of his fellow part members to Malta on March 8, 1919. This proved to be the final straw for many and in protest Egyptian society rose to demonstrate against the British in what was the country's first modern Revolution.

1919 Revolution Edit

Western repression along with the exile of the popular Wafd leader Saad Zaghlul proved to be the catalyst for change resulting in violent demonstrations. All classes of Egyptian society participated and it was the first time women were involved in such rallies. In fact "open political agitation and action on the part of women began with their participation in the Nationalist movement against the British". [1]

"The veiled gentlewomen of Cairo paraded in the streets shouting slogans for independence and freedom from foreign occupation. They organised strikes and demonstrations, boycotts of British goods and wrote petitions protesting British actions in Egypt". [5] These demonstrations are believed to be what led to the emergence of the first phase of Egyptian feminism.

The first phase of the feminist movement is considered to have taken place between (1923–1939). The Egyptian Feminist Union (EFU) was founded by the former leader of the women's committee in the Wafd party, Hoda Shaarawi. This led to her participation in an international Feminist Conference in Rome and upon her return, along with Nabawiyya Musa and Ceza Nabarwi, Shaarawi caused outrage in the gesture that she made against the Egyptian authorities and traditions by throwing her veil into the sea. This act caused a particular scandal for Shaarawi was the wife of an eminent Pasha. However she was able to inspire other women to cast off their veils. [6]

The EFU was concerned with education, social welfare, and changes in private law in order to provide equality between Egyptian men and women. It viewed the social problems of Egypt, such as poverty, prostitution, illiteracy, and poor health conditions, not as a result of a specific socioeconomic structure, but rather due to the neglect of the state in its responsibilities towards its people. [7] The movement believed that the state had a responsibility to maintain the morality of the nation, as well as its welfare. However it defined the issues concerning women only from the narrow and class based perspective of upper-class women. [7]

This is particularly evident in the feminist journal L'Egyptienne published by the EFU. Written and published in French, the journal was only accessible to the French speaking Egyptians who were mostly members of the upper classes. However the issues discussed in the magazine included Turkish reforms regarding women, which had influenced Egyptian women and Islam. The journal editor Ceza Nebarawi stated in 1927 that "we the Egyptian Feminists, have a great respect for our religion. In wanting to see it practised in its true spirit". [8] Another journal, published 1937, was called el-Masreyyah (The Egyptian Woman).

Although the new Constitution of 1924 had made some changes to the position of women such as raising the age of marriage for girls to sixteen, the question of women's political rights was ignored as was the right to divorce and abolition of polygamy. In 1935 Hoda Shaarawi lectured at the American University of Cairo on the status of women and called for the abolition of polygamy. Her speech was met with protest from two Sheiks from the Al-Azhar University. However, according to Kumari Jayawordena the audience sided with Shaarawi which was symbolic of the changing educated opinion. [1] Her speech was in fact met with such enthusiasm that it was printed in a leading newspaper and thus widely circulated through the Arabic speaking world. [9] The rise of feminism was however stunted in Egypt by its remaining elitist nature and class bias. Its limited appeal was not fairly representative of the situation of most women in Egypt. It is claimed that to some extent the movement "followed the political practices of most parties in Egypt during the 1920s – 1930s, which regarded politics as the prerogative of the educated elite". [7] Feminist activism began to slow down particularly due to the climate of political opinion and criticism as a result of the movement increased.

Examples of criticism faced by the early feminism movement Edit

Change concerning the position women in Egypt was felt by many as a "final invasion in the last sphere they could control against aggressive infidels, once sovereignty and much of the economy had been taken by the west". [10] Talaat Harb, a prominent Nationalist of his time, in "Tarbiyat al-mar'a wa-al-hijab" 1905 argued that "the emancipation of women was just another plot to weaken the Egyptian nation and disseminate immorality and decadence in its society. He criticised Egyptians who desired to ape the west and claimed that there was a European imperialist design to project a negative image of the position of Muslim women." [ clarification needed ]

Not all critics were completely opposed to the idea of the emancipation of women. Ahmad as-Sayyid reassured his Nationalist leaders that despite events which were unfolding in Europe in which "women had satisfied their demands for individual rights and begun now to compete with men in politics "Our issue is not that of equality of men with women with regard to voting and positions. Our women, God bless them, do not put up such demands, which would disturb the public peace" They only demand education and instruction". [4] Any change in Egyptian women's position in society was often therefore "legitimised by the needs of society, not by their rights as human individuals". [4] This enabled limits to be established to prevent too much improvement in their position. By improving certain aspects of their rights and situations in Egyptian society such as access to education, meant that the upper and middle classes were satisfied.

Following the end of the Second World War and facing hard economic realities and corruption of the ancient regime (the monarchical system under King Farouk), a general impetus for another radicalization of Egyptian politics became evident. The women's movement experienced a similar transformation.

Although according to some writers the feminism began to decline in the period following the Second World War, it is argued by others that it is during precisely this period that the Women's movement came of age. According to Nelson it was only then that the movement experienced a diversification in ideology, tactics, and goals, and that it began to transcend its elitist origins and membership. [4] This new phase in the Egyptian women's movement was characterised by a more radical approach. The voices of a younger more radical generation of Egyptian women influenced by the rise of student and labour movements began to be heard and they were not content with the status quo of the EFU. It was felt that the EFU's tactics were outdated and needed updating. The establishment of health clinics although necessary and important were no longer deemed sufficient. It was felt by the members of EFU that the distribution of charity was an inadequate solution to social problems. Fundamentally it was decided that equal rights no longer meant merely access to education but instead much more.

In 1942, the Egyptian Feminist party was founded. Headed by Fatma Neamat Rashed, the party called for complete equality between women and men in education, employment, political representation, and rights. It also called for the right to paid leave for working women. [2] The Bint El-Nil (daughter of the Nile) was another feminist association created in 1948. Their primary purpose was to claim full political rights for women. [11] It aimed to concentrate on introducing women's participation in the decision-making processes. It also promoted literacy programmes, campaigned to improve health services among the poor, and aimed to enhance mother's rights and childcare. [12]

Doria Shafik was the leader of the movement and she reflected the liberal ideology of the modern feminists whose activism openly challenged the state. In 1951, a year before the 1952 Revolution, Doria Shafik and 1500 women stormed the parliament demanding full political rights, a reform of the Personal Status Law and equal pay for equal work. [13] In 1954 Shafik and a number of women engaged in a hunger strike for ten days in protest of a constitutional committee on which women were not permitted any places. Shafik's most direct confrontation with Nasser took place in 1957. She again staged a hunger protest in demonstration against the occupation of Egyptian territories by Israeli forces and (in her view) the "dictatorial rule of the Egyptian authorities driving the country towards bankruptcy and chaos". [14]

In 1952, the army seized power in Egypt and deposed the King. The ruling Revolution Command Council issued a declaration demanding the dissolution of all political parties. As a result, all independent women's movements were banned. The regime's political parties replaced women's organizations. During this period the feminist movement reverted to charity associations. Significant equal rights were however granted to women during this period not only in the areas of education and work but also by the 1956 Constitution that gave women the right to vote and run for election for the first time. [2]

The decline of the Nasserist regime signified another era in the feminist movement in Egypt. In 1972 the publication of the book Women and Sex by Nawal El Saadawi was symbolic of the re-emergence and radicalisation of the movement. The book demanded "unified criteria for 'honor' for both women and men, and denounced social practices which used religion to justify women's oppression". [2] The book caused a strong backlash within Egyptian society especially due to the rising religious fundamentalism within the state.

During the 1980s, however, new feminist groups were formed to counter religious fundamentalism. The New Woman Group was formed in Cairo and was mainly concerned with studying the feminist history of the country in order to determine a new program which would start off from where the previous one had stopped. [2] Another organisation was the Committee for the Defence of Women and Family Rights, which was formed in 1985. This committee was established to support the campaign for the amendment of the Person Status Code. [2]

Today, there are many different feminist groups within Egypt. Some of the movements are affiliated with the state in some way in that they are women's committees of political parties such as The Progressive Women's Union to the Women's Secretariat of the Labor Party. There are however also many independent feminist associations such as The New Woman Research Centre and Bint El Ard (Daughter of the Land) Association. Although the organisations have different goals in general they all entail the improvement of women's position in Egyptian by improving literacy, democratic and human rights, increasing women's participation in political life, and women's health.

An Islamic feminist movement has also re-emerged in recent years. Islamic feminism is a "feminist discourse and practice articulated within an Islamic paradigm". [15] Islamic feminism sees the sexes not as different in capability, but rather in their characteristics and roles in society. Followers of such beliefs hold the view that their religion has established a framework of equality and rather than calling for change to existing laws, Islamic fundamentalists cry for a return to authentic Islam so that both women and men can achieve their full potential. [16]

Feminism seems to have become a priority of the state since 2000 with the foundation of the National Council for Women (NCW) who are very active in promoting women's rights in Egypt. In 2000 legislation was passed allowing women to divorce under the khul-law and to pass on their nationality to their biological children in 2004. These are great steps forward and due also in part to lobbying in government and outside the state structures through civil society organisations.

Feminism and Egyptian education Edit

The Egyptian government originally revised school uniform legislation in 1994, forbidding girls under the age of 12 from covering their hair or face by wearing the hijab or veil. This was widely seen as an anti-Islamic move, and faced harsh criticism from Islamic leaders across the country. The ban was overturned in 1996 by the Supreme Court of Egypt. In August 2015, the hijab was banned again by the Minister of Education, Moheb Al-Refaei, without specifying the age at which it would be permitted. Al-Refaei stated that the Qu'ran does not require girls who have not reached puberty to wear a hijab or veil, therefore they do not need to wear it before entering middle school. [17]

The issue of the hijab was brought to the public's attention in March 2015, after an Egyptian religion elementary school teacher in the Fayum province west of Cairo, was arrested for beating a girl in class and cutting off a lock of her hair for not wearing a hijab. While corporal punishment is seen as an acceptable form of punishment in most schools, the degree and nature of the punishment was unprecedented. [ citation needed ]

While wearing religious headdresses is not unusual in Egypt, the age at which it is appropriate for a girl to wear a hijab is a deeply debated issue among the literary scholars of Islam. Some academics theorize that the laws of Islam make it obligatory at all ages, while others theorize that it is a cultural tradition and can be worn at her own accord. [17]

Sexual harassment in Egypt Edit

On June 4, 2014, a law was passed criminalizing sexual harassment. This was the first law passed concerning sexual harassment in Egyptian history. The law states that verbal, physical, behavioral, phone and online sexual harassment can result in a prison sentence of 6 months to 5 years, and up to 50,000 pounds in fines. [18] Many organizations concerning human rights allege that the enforcement of laws does not do enough in terms of eliminating an atmosphere that perpetuates harassment and sexual violence. [19] The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women published a report on recent sexual harassment statistics in Egypt. [20] Egypt has the second highest rates of reported sexual harassment, with Afghanistan ranking as the highest. [18]

The study showed that 99 percent of Egyptian women have experienced or have been exposed to a form of sexual harassment. The survey showed that the most common form of sexual harassment was unwanted touching. The second highest form of sexual harassment was verbal sexual harassment. The survey included reports on sexual harassment according to time of day, the occupations of sexual harassers and by governorate. [20] The research in “Study on Ways and Methods to Eliminate Sexual Harassment in Egypt” conducted by UN Women in 2013, reported that 82.6% of women said they did not feel safe in the street 86.5% reported that their feeling of lack of safety increased when using a form of public transportation. [18]

In 2015, in response to these statistics, Egypt made attempts to combat the issue of sexual harassment. The United Nations Population Fund recently launched a program targeting sexual harassment faced by Egyptian women in universities. Work was started on a university policy through the Ministry of Education to specifically strengthen institutional mechanisms to discourage violence against women. The program aimed to create an official channel where women would be able to report incidents of sexual harassment or violence. The educational institute would then handle the report with an adequate punishment or means of action. [18]

In 2015, the anti-sexual harassment initiative also collaborated with popular public service companies, such as Uber, under the Safe Corporates projects. This is an organization that targets medium to large companies to train and educate their employees to take action against unwanted sexual behavior. All drivers will undergo training to ensure that the service will be safe for all women to use. The program is aimed to ensure that drivers will be able to prevent, recognize and not initiate inappropriate behavior. This training is especially significant to Uber, as the company has been involved in recent controversy with sexual harassment and even rape in France, China, Canada and India. The service was banned in Delhi after a woman reported that she was raped by her Uber driver. The training given to Uber is one of many Safe Corporates projects, all of which aim towards a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment, as well as steps to eliminating an attitude of sexual harassment and violence as socially acceptable. [19]

Feminist revolution Edit

In late 2020, BBC News described reactions to the July 2020 Ahmed Bassam Zaki case, the 2014 Cairo hotel gang rape case, and the assault of Sabah Khodir, including Khodir's activism following her exile in the United States, as part of a feminist revolution that was underway in Egypt. BBC News stated, "The stakes are high for women in Egypt, which only makes this current movement all the more remarkable. . Despite a legal system that does not fully protect them, the shaming they may receive from families and the fact that so-called 'honour killings' still happen, the women and girls of Egypt are speaking out more than ever." Mona Eltahawy stated that she was "tenaciously optimistic . that a feminist revolution is beginning. . I look now at these young women and girls and queer people torpedoing through shame, and I am thrilled." [21]


The Women’s Power in Ancient Egypt

We don’t have a lot of ancient societies that gave women higher positions in their societies. The ancient Egyptian society gave women rights that were somehow equated to men and that are how they achieved truly important positions in the society. Nebet was the first woman to be a vizier, which was the second-highest state official after being a king.

In ancient civilizations, reign was transferred between the male heirs of the kings without allowed women to rule or have the right to be the one in charge but that was absolutely changed in ancient Egypt as women started to gain the right to rule after her husband if they didn’t sons to inherit their father just like Queen Nefertari, the wife of Akhenaten.

Ancient Egyptians preferred to be ruled by women with royal blood rather than being ruled by kings who don’t have royal blood. The most notable example of the great Egyptian queens who ruled Egypt is Queen Hatshepsut, who married Thutmose II to have control upon the country and after her, it was pretty common to have women ruling the country in a very successful was but Queen Hatshepsut ruled the country for the longest period for more than 20 years. Her daughter Neferure followed her and continued her mother’s normal duties. And of course, there is Queen Cleopatra VII, who is known for her breathtaking beauty and her famous love story with Marc Antony.

A-List of the Most Successful Women Who Rule Ancient Egypt:

  • Nitocris (6th dynasty of Egypt)
  • Sobekneferu (12th dynasty of Egypt),
  • Hatshepsut (18th dynasty of Egypt),
  • Neferneferuaten (18th dynasty of Egypt),
  • Twosret (19th dynasty of Egypt).

The Great Royal Wives Also Played Significant Diplomatic and Political Roles:

  • Tiya, the wife of (Amenhotep III)
  • Nefertiti, the wife of (Amenhotep IV)
  • Nefertari, the wife of (Ramses II)

During the Egypt New Kingdom, the great wife has invested the divine role of “Wife of God” and Queen Hatshepsut was the first Queen to obtain such a title.


When taking any trip to Egypt you will learn a lot about the ancient Egyptian history and the role of women in the ancient Egyptian history. Women in ancient Egypt were really ahead of their time – they could rule the country and they had many of the same basic rights as men. This is very different than other ancient cultures, such as the society of Ancient Greece where women were considered to be legal minors without the same rights as men.

There were many powerful women who ruled in Ancient Egypt and took on very important roles in the history of the country. Here are a few of the women who made an impact – you are sure to hear a lot about these historical figures on your Egypt guided tour.

Queen Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut was the first female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt, coming to the throne in 1478 BC. She is thought to be one of the most successful pharaohs and Egyptologist James Henry Breasted considers her the “first great woman in history.”

Queen Hatshepsut Temple in the West Bank of Luxor

Hatshepsut did a lot for Egypt during her 22-year rule. She established a lot of important trade routes which had been disrupted due to the Hyksos occupation of Egypt – which contributed to the growth of wealth in the 18th dynasty. She also oversaw the famous tradition expedition to the Land of Punt. Queen Hatshepsut built one of the most beautiful Egyptian temples in the West bank of Luxor, it is located couple miles from the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.

She was also one of the most prolific builders of the time, commissioning hundreds of structures throughout Egypt. During your Egypt tour be sure to visit Karnak’s Red Chapel (Chapelle Rouge), which is, a shine lined with carved stones depicting events from Hatshepsut’s life. Also a great source to learn more about Queen Hatshepsut is to check Kara Cooney’s most recent book “The Women Who Would Be King”

Cleopatra

Cleopatra VII ruled over ancient Egypt for nearly three decades. Well educated, smart and powerful, she could speak several languages and had romantic and military alliances with leaders such as Mark Antony and Julius Caesar.

Cleopatra as earned a place in myth and history due to her powers of seduction and exotic beauty. Her story lives on in many works of art including Alexandria, Shakespeare’s Antony, and Cleopatra and George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra.

Queen Cleopatra, One of the most famous women in ancient Egypt

Queen Nefertari

Not much is known about Queen Nefertari, the wife of Ramses II. Their union likely started as a political one, but it blossomed into love and Ramses II celebrated that love with monuments and poetry dedicated to his beautiful queen. She was given various roles in her function as queen and Ramses II even took her on his military campaigns.

You can see the beautiful tomb Ramses II built for his wife, it is located in the Valley of the Queens near Thebes. It is the biggest and most elaborate in the valley and the well-preserved wall paintings offer a fascinating insight into her life. Queen Nefertari has one of the most amazing temples in Aswan, Abu Simbel temple which is considered one of the marks of Nubian monuments in Egypt.

Queen Nefertari in the Temple of Ramesses II, Abu Simbel, Egypt. One of the ancient Egypt greatest monuments in Aswan

Queen Nefertiti

Queen Nefertiti and her famous husband Pharaoh Akhenaten were known for bringing a religious revolution to Egypt. They worshipped a single god Aten (known as The Sun Disc) and they promoted a new style of Egyptian artwork that was very different from anything that came before.

Queen Nefertiti, She seas one of the most famous women in ancient Egypt

Nefertiti was one of the most powerful women who ever ruled and her husband went to significant lengths to show that she was his equal. She is depicted in reliefs as wearing a pharaoh’s crown and smiting her enemies in battle. A famous bust carving of Nefertiti is one of the most iconic works of art from ancient Egypt. It is located in the Neues Museum in Berlin and draws more than 500,000 visitors every year.

Are you ready to book your Egypt adventure? To find out more about our amazing Egypt tour packages, or any of our other tours such as Jordan and Petra tours, Morocco tours, Dubai tours, or Turkey tours, feel free to contact us at any time.


3f. Women of Ancient Egypt


The actress Elizabeth Taylor portrayed Cleopatra in the 1963 Hollywood movie named after the famous Egyptian queen.

Women in ancient Egypt were ahead of their time. They could not only rule the country, but also had many of the same basic human rights as men.

One of the first women to hold the rank of pharaoh was Hatshepsut, who began her rule in about 1,500 B.C.E. Hatshepsut took care of her people and built temples to the gods as well as other public buildings. Egyptian custom dictated that a pharaoh, who was considered a god, could not marry a mortal. As a result, pharaohs chose spouses from within the royal family. Her husband, Thutmose, was her half brother.

Nefertiti was another Egyptian ruler. She married Amenhotep IV, who preached and supported monotheism, or the belief in only one god.


Found in the chapel of Merya at Armana, this drawing depicts Queen Nefertiti accompanying her husband, the pharaoh Akhenaton, from the royal palace to the temple. Because of exceptionally high status, Nefertiti rode in her own chariot.
The bust of Nefertiti, the Queen of Egypt, is legendary for its beautiful and mysterious depiction of the queen during the Amarna period. This portrait was sculpted in the workshop of Thutmose in Akhet-Aton.


The Egyptian goddess Isis was one of the most important deities of the ancient world. Originally the goddess of motherhood and fertility, Isis became the mother of all gods and was worshipped throughout Egypt until the 6th century C.E.

Cleopatra became the most famous of Egypt's female leaders. She was extremely intelligent, and ambitious and spoke several languages &mdash she even studied astronomy. At 18, she became queen of Egypt.

Romance and Tragedy in Cleopatra's Court

Cleopatra constantly battled jealous, ambitious people who wanted to kill her and occupy her throne. For a time, she was removed from power and banished. She sought help from Julius Caesar, the leader of the powerful Roman Republic.

When Caesar visited Alexandria, a large Egyptian city, Cleopatra saw her chance. She could not even enter the city to see Caesar because her jealous brother hired spies to kill her on sight. Craftily, she sneaked into the city rolled in a carpet. She was brought to Caesar, and the two developed a relationship. The couple had a son named Caesarion, and Caesar helped her recapture the throne. The relationship ended abruptly when rival Roman rulers murdered Caesar in the Roman Senate.

I'm Dying to See You

When Marc Antony became leader of Rome, he too, fell in love with Cleopatra. The two had children and together ruled the most powerful empires of the Mediterranean. Eventually, a rival defeated Antony's armies, and Antony drew a sword on himself in despair. As he was dying, he wanted to see Cleopatra one last time. He died in her arms. Later, Cleopatra killed herself by placing a poisonous snake on her chest. The greatest political soap opera of the age was now over.

The Rights Stuff

These were examples of elite Egyptian women. But what about the common folk? A woman's role as mother and wife still came first in Egyptian society. Some professions in which women worked included weaving, perfume making, and entertainment.

Egyptian women could have their own businesses, own and sell property, and serve as witnesses in court cases. Unlike most women in the Middle East, they were even permitted to be in the company of men. They could escape bad marriages by divorcing and remarrying. And women were entitled to one third of the property their husbands owned. The political and economic rights Egyptian women enjoyed made them the most liberated females of their time.


Women Egypt Arab

The first thing that comes in mind when we mention “Arab women” is housekeeping and domestic chores. For some time this concept was true. But nowadays, Arab women have proved themselves in many aspects of the society. Still, there are some that believe that a woman’s place is at home, but for the most part the society have gotten used to seeing women at work. This is not to put down from the value of house wives, they do as much work and are as appreciated as any other woman who holds a high rank in society. In this section of the article we will dedicate it for Egyptian women.

History of Women’s Liberation

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Women in Egypt have been battling for their legal right, access to education, and economical rights for centuries. Because Egypt was under the British rule at one point, its women have been exposed to the western ideas, especially those of the upper class. The fight was not only important to those westernized women that have discarded the veil publicly, but also by those who chose to keep the veil but wanted their legal rights. Among those women are Huda Sha’rawi and Zainab al-Ghazaly. These two women were the first women that adopted the war for women’s rights in Egypt. Although there have been associations made by women to discuss and find solutions for women’s legal rights in Egypt, Huda Sha’rawi is still considered the mother feminization in Egypt. She is the founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923. She campaigned for women’s voting rights, equal access to education and change in the Egyptian marriage laws, especially that her own experience with marriage was not a successful one. In 1923, Sha’rawi attended an international women’s conference in Rome. After her return she stopped wearing her face veil. Her argument was that the veil is a symbol of women’s lower status in Egyptian society. The veil was greatly criticized by western feminists in the conference. But she continued to wear a scarf covering her hair which agrees with Islamic traditions and customs.

Zainab al-Ghazali, a disciple of Sha’rawi, took a different approach. She was the founder of the Muslim Women’s Association in 1936. The association’s goal was to educate Muslim women to take pride and understand their traditions better.

Status of Egyptian Woman Today

Egyptian woman today is definitely different from the past. Nowadays women hold critical positions in the society. Where before women were more or less confined to their homes and bearing and raising children, today women are in political, medical, and high social ranks. Women in Egypt are even involved in the military. But women are found also in very odd position. There’s the female truck driver, bus driver, and even taxi drivers. Women are not only allowed to vote, they’re also allowed to run for political positions. They can demand their rights to divorce their husbands if they’re treated badly. They are also responsible for raising their children in the best manner and in accordance to the culture and traditions. So, it is obvious that the status of women have greatly evolved into one that is almost equal to man. Although in some areas, such as Upper Egypt, women are still being oppressed and cannot fully implement their full rights this problem is on its way to being resolved.

The Egyptian woman is now involved in many fields of the society. Women are great doctors and scientists, politics and great thinkers. It was the first lady Jihan el-Sadat who entered the political field and fought for women’s rights to run for political positions. She succeeded to dedicate 30 seats for women in the People’s counsel. Unfortunately, this legislation was canceled after the death of president el-Sadat. Nowadays, first Lady Suzan Mubarak is a symbol of a great woman involved in politics. Her efforts and the efforts of other women in the Egyptian National Counsel for Women that women are now being involved the upcoming plan national development. There are many known names in political society that are women.

Although women have gained status in the political field, but still some in some areas they’re being fought against. As an example, there’s a controversy these days about women holding positions as judges. 75% of males working in the judging field, courts in general, refuse to have a woman that has an authority over them at their work. In a survey that questioned 100 member of the field, 51% of the judges refused to have a woman judge among them and 49% accepted but only on the condition that the woman is to do advising work only, not as a judge. What are strange are the excuses these men used to their refusal. One of the judges said that it is not appropriate (forbidden by religion) that he sits alone with a lady judge in the discussion room, especially if the lady is attractive. Another was questioning what should be done in case the woman judge asked for a maternity leave of any other vacation that she legally deserves (as a woman). And from the 75% that refused a woman to be the boss of them is the secretariat of the court of Sohag. He said that he would rather work as a microbus driver than work under the rule of a woman.

These views still show that most men in the society do not believe a woman can do their job, and even better. This also shows that the society (male society) views women as housekeepers and that their place should be at home. Even after the fact that one woman (Advisor Tahany el-Gabaly) was appointed as a judge in the High Court in 2002. After that no other woman was appointed such a position in almost four years. Commenting on that is one Judge that said that the government was right when they appointed a female judge, and that she was placed in the right place away from being in direct contact with the common citizens, because we are a conservative society.

It is clear that the percentage of women that are being educated has increased. Yet the overall literacy rate in Egypt is about 50%, it is not surprising to find that most of these educated are men. Girls are allowed to study up until they reach an age where they can get married. But this phenomenon is mostly practiced in the villages of Upper Egypt and poor areas of large cities. Most fathers now are eager to let their girls learn up until they finish higher education. Girls that leave school at an early age are either to work to help with the family income or because their fathers still think with the old ideology that a woman’s place is at home.

It is very clear from the previous sections in this article that most Arab men prefer their wives to stay at home and look after the kids. Only a few are happy with their wives working. And usually these wives are torn apart between their jobs and their house work. It is very difficult and frustrating for women to be working, especially in a male dominated society like ours. Beside her day job, she is obligated to clean the house, study for the kids, prepare dinner before her husband returns from his work, and does the entire house work. It is very rare to find a man who helps his wife with the house work or even helping with the kids. It is also very rare to find a man who is willing to leave his job to stay at home with the kids instead of his wife, even if the wife’s job pays more than his. These rare husbands are very common in western societies, not in our eastern ones.

Women are no doubt a very important pillar in the community. Without women there would be no life. They’re the symbol of delicacy, love, and utmost compassion. God Almighty has put in them very delicate feelings to care for other. He also put in them the strength to take on any difficulties that may face their families. Woman is a word that includes mother, sister, lover and wife, partner for good and for worse, a shoulder to cry on and hand that would stretch out to help. She could be the weakest creature when she’s in love and the strongest one when someone threatens her or her family. So please remember that God created Eve to be a helper for Adam, and not his servant.

Kuwait is a small and oil-rich state where women are said to be among the most emancipated in the Gulf region, which is incredibly conservative. Women in Kuwait can travel, drive, and work without their fathers’ or husbands’ consent and they even hold some senior government positions. But women in Kuwait have not yet gained the one right that most of them desire: the right to vote. Although the ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah, issued a royal decree in June of 1999 that stated women should be allowed to vote and run for office in the next election, a measure to put his will into law was defeated, 32 to 30, by legislators in November of 2000.

When compared to a place such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwaiti women have it good. In Saudi Arabia, no one has the right to vote and women still don’t have the right to drive a car (Muslim Women’s League). But this does not appease the Kuwaiti women.

For the very first time in Kuwait’s history, women of all ages and backgrounds turned out in force during the 29 th June landmark parliamentary elections to exercise their newfound right of suffrage. Women finally got to fully participate in the decision making process and have their voices heard in the corridors of political power. Since parliament’s decision on 16 th May 2005 to amend the electoral law, Kuwaiti women have quickly risen to become a major sought-after constituency. With their participation in the elections, Kuwait has witnessed a true democratic celebration. Thousands of women have embraced the elections with a first timer’s zeal.

Although no female candidate won a seat in the parliament, ballot counts have shown the participation of Kuwaiti women in the elections for the first time to reflect major progress. Even though only 35% of eligible females voted, the level of their participation was higher than women’s participation in many other countries including western ones, the first time they exercise suffrage.

In Arab countries, men have traditionally been the providers, women the homemakers. This concept is slowly changing, however, as the attitudes of the outside world permeate Arab society.

This process is hastened by the influx of foreign women to Kuwait. For some time, Arab women have worked in teaching and nursing, but they’re increasingly also found in other fields, especially banking, finance and the service sector. The majority of expatriate female workers are employed in the service sector as doctors, lawyers, hotel administrators, in advertising, public relations, nursing, education and as stewardesses for the many national airlines.

More local women are entering the work force in Kuwait and some employers view them as harder-working and more reliable than the average local male worker (and invariably cheaper to employ). Women rising to positions of power and influence tend to come from middle and upper echelon families. Indeed, for a woman to rise to a position of influence at work she needs the support of her family, especially the male members.

Most expatriate workers – whether western or eastern – are male. Their wives often have a restriction in their passport which prohibits them from working. Should the wives wish to work, they must obtain their own sponsorship and work visa, but employers tend to be biased against giving work visas to women. Women are often offered work (illegally) and, while this isn’t a major crime, it can result in the company being fined and the woman losing her job.

Women are generally safe in the workplace, with little sexual harassment because of the severe punishments for this. The influx of female ‘tourists’ (i.e. prostitutes) from eastern Europe in recent times, however, has reduced the level of respect that foreign females hitherto enjoyed. Women should also be careful not to be too friendly towards Arab men in the workplace, because this can be misunderstood as flirtatiousness.

In fact, the legal liabilities and social discrimination to which women in Kuwait are subject reach beyond political rights. According to Freedom in the World 2003, Freedom House’s annual worldwide survey of political rights and civil liberties, Kuwaiti women “are legally disadvantaged in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance, must have the permission of a male relative to obtain a passport and cannot confer citizenship on their children.” In addition, and though the proportion is growing, women remain under-represented in the labor force.

But there are other reasons, rooted in Kuwaiti culture and history, to believe that suffrage is within view for Kuwaiti women and that the freedom they now enjoy will lead to further gains in the acquisition of civil rights. For starters, although excluded from political life, Kuwaiti women enjoy a relatively high degree of participation in professional life. They hold prominent positions in journalism, at the universities, in private business, in medicine, and in government ministries. They serve on the board of the Kuwait Petroleum Company. They constitute a little more than a third of the Kuwaiti labor force, and their numbers are likely to grow.

This is because women are flourishing in academic life in Kuwait. They constitute over 70 percent of the students at Kuwait University, and about half of those studying engineering and medicine. This is a result of two factors. The first, stressed by Kuwait social scientist Haya al-Mughni in Women in Kuwait, the leading book on the subject, is that in the late 1960s the government adopted the policy that women should be integrated into the work force. To this end, women were provided with educational opportunities. In particular, the government made education compulsory for all Kuwaiti children up to the age of 14, and women were admitted to the University of Kuwait.

These associations have been the chief vehicle through which Kuwaiti women activists, almost from the moment the country’s constitution was ratified in 1962, have sought their political rights. Prominent among these associations has been the Women’s Cultural and Social Society, founded in 1963. The WCSS believes that the struggle for women’s suffrage in Kuwait stands on firm constitutional ground: The Kuwaiti constitution’s preamble proclaims devotion to “democratic rule,” and article seven declares that “Justice, Liberty and Equality are the pillars of Society.” Through conferences, consciousness-raising, and lobbying members of the national assembly and the government, the Society has sought to overturn the election law passed in 1963, which provides the legal basis for excluding women from politics by providing rules and regulations covering only Kuwaiti men. Last year, a lawsuit, which the WCSS supported, challenging the constitutionality of the election law, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

According to Rasha Al-Sabah, a member of the ruling family, under minister of higher education, and the highest-ranking woman in the Kuwait government, Kuwait’s distinctive culture and history accounts for its openness to freedom. Located at the crossroads between the Arabian Desert and the Arabian Gulf, and blessed with a capacious natural port at the Gulf’s northern reaches, Kuwait originated as a trading center and served as a home to a seafaring and shipbuilding population.

Kuwait’s commercial character also shaped its political development. As an important trading port since the eighteenth century, Kuwait has been in constant contact with the outside world, particularly East Africa and India, and its diversity of beliefs and practices. And while the men were often at sea pearl-diving or trading for weeks or months at a time, women ran households and developed the ability to fend for themselves.

And where does the royal family stand on the question of women’s suffrage? Here too informed Kuwaitis differ. In 1999, under some pressure as a result of promises he had made to enlarge freedom in Kuwait after the 1990 Iraqi invasion, the emir finally issued an emergency decree, while parliament was dissolved, granting women the right to vote. However, such decrees eventually must be approved by a majority vote when the national assembly reconvenes when it did, it rejected the measure by a vote of 32 to 30.

Some Kuwaiti liberals, such as Mohammed Al-Jassem, contend that this legislative defeat represented a kind of victory for the democratic process, for what the parliament was telling the emir, in Al-Jassem’s view, was that laws of such import should arise not by emergency decree but from the legislature. Others, such as Fatima Hussain, argue that the defeat of the measure merely reflected a lamentable lack of political will on the part of the government.

Only one political group in Kuwait strongly opposes giving women the right to vote and that is the influential minority whose ultimate aim is to make Muslim law not just one source of Kuwaiti law, as the constitution declares, but the sole source of Kuwaiti law. I mentioned the Islamist view — that Islam itself prohibits the participation of women in politics — to the students at GUST, and wondered how such a religion could ever be reconciled with democracy. Shaikha Al-Ali, seven months pregnant and among those who had expressed little concern about lacking the vote, replied with steel in her voice and fire in her eyes that there was no problem because there was no contradiction between women’s political participation and her interpretation of Islam.

Nobody can say just when women in Kuwait will acquire the right to vote, but where the press is robust and free, where women avidly form voluntary organizations to help others and to advance their own interests, and where the willingness to live between cultures and to submit religious questions to the authority of one’s personal judgment becomes second nature, respect for the just claims of equality can’t be far behind.

Saudi women become the principle problem of Saudi society. Women in Saudi society are different from women in any other Muslim societies where women have political and social rights. Islam set up rules to regulates the relationships between male and female. Some countries as, Saudi Arabia, is considered male societies and have no value for women. In Saudi Arabia, males are considered the backbone of the societies and women do not share in any decisions about their lives. In this society women are forbidden their simplest rights as, discrimination against women is performed and the laws or other measures counteract discrimination are absence. The most important problems are education, working and marriage.

Saudi-Arabia is considered one of the countries that emphasize religious aspects without its spirit. Women cannot have higher levels of education. If they want to work, they cannot work in high position. They have limited places for work. They cannot share in any important discussion and cannot hold any political positions. Women cannot depend on themselves. They only listen to their family’s orders without refusing. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot choose her husband who will share her life forever. Authorities put wrong instructions for women’s lives. They hide under Islam’s slogan, although Islam clarified women’s rights in the society as, society is consider a combination between men and women and cannot be formed without one of the both.

In the past Islam defined the family as a social arrangement regulating the bond among men and women. At the beginning, Saudi Arabia used the right rules of Islam toward women as women were able to receive education in 1962 and were progressing in various fields. They were at the beginning to take their life like other Countries. The coming of Muslim brothers to Saudi Arabia sixties and seventies, escaping the tyranny of Gamal Abdel Naser and in Eighties , escaping the massacre of Muslim Brothers in Syria and their accession to Saudi citizenship and work in education.(Al-nabulsi). They controlled the education system and prevented the communication among gender. The society depends on the male power and authorities. Muslim Brothers thought that women are created only to be homemakers and bring children. Women were forbidden from their simplest rights that Islam has given to them. There are many countries like Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia where women have social and political rights. These countries are like Saudi Arabia in their emphasizing on their Islam, but they applied the true rules of the society. From age to age traditional and customs moved from placed to another place and women prevented from their rights in the life.

Before the spread of Islam, women were treated like animals. Islam raised the importance of women in the society and clarified all their rights to live a good life among male. During early Islam ages, women had the ability to be educated different types of educations and could work in the suitable places. The best example working women, the prophet wife who worked in the business. Saudi Arabia tried to follow the early Islamic ages, but authorities put wrong rules for women’s lives. Women cannot complete their education to high levels as found in other countries. They must go to other countries to complete their educations. In their countries, they do not find available jobs for their educations because the society is male dominated which does not care about women. Women face a lot of obstacles at work due to the different traditions and customs in the society. They cannot reach to high political position. According to Samar Fatany, chief broadcaster for Radio Jeddah’s English account for fifty-five percent of Saudi graduates but make up just under workforce.

Other problems that face women are marriage. Most women do not have the ability to choose their husband they only listen to their family orders. In this society male does not know the real value of women. According to the family physician Maha Alatta, in the article “Saudi women pioneers ” “Divorce and polygamy are particular problems: These two problem are considered the most problems facing women in these societies Male has the ability to marriage four wives, Islam stipulated the polygamy as, a msn must treat all wives fairly and equally. According to the article “Saudi women struggle to confront the religious guise of male power” Mohammed Saqr clarified that women were better than they arrived of Muslim Brothers as, women could go shopping without covering their face. Muslim Brothers change the lives without using Islam rules as they said.

There are a lot of conferences that were established to discuss women’s problem in Saudi Arabia. According to the article “Saudi Arabia: Gross human rights abuse against women.” Which clarified the opinion of Prince Turki Bin Mohammed, when he was asked in the conferences of Amnesty’s campaign against human rights about the problem of women he kept silent and said that suffering of women for no reasons other than their having been born female. In the same article, other examples of conferences that established for convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Saudi Arabia has ratified several international labor organization (ILO) conventions. One of the clear evidence about this problem what happened in Nejd, Asir and south region. As Amal al Ahmari said that female artists are forced to sign their work with pseudonym because Saudi society looks down on them. According to the least world view to Saudi women, ninety-five percent of women are consider homemakers and they preferred sons than daughters. There are a lot of example that prove that women have fought for political and civil equality, when Saudi women derived car during the gulf war, they were immediately arrested and those working were dismissed.

The more pressures put on government in Saudi Arabia, the more conflicts in the society. Due to all these restrictions on women freedom, they leave their country to other countries enjoying all their right in different aspects of the life. No one can deny that a lot of women struggle and lost their life to have their rights without any benefits. Problem of Saudi women remain a complex one where women become the social problem in the country. Women are forbidden their simplest rights. They cannot educate to higher levels or setup in high position or choose their husband. All these problems can be solved in many steps first the government must put new rules for the society including all rights of women as find in the Quran. Second, women must have the ability to educate, working in political position and have the ability to choose their husband. All other Arabic countries must help them to solve this problem by send professions in these problems.

The role of the Syrian women in their country is intensified nowadays in many aspects of life. This is recognized by many organizations in many Europe countries. The traditions of Syrian women is discussed by women called Asma Al Asaad.

The very noble posture of the young, elegantly beautiful Syrian first lady, Asma al-Assad, at the breakfast meeting reminded me of Nizar Kabbani’s words. Kabbani, studying at Damascus University, asks, “Is it the Syrian woman who gives her beauty to Syria, or is it Syria that gives her an inner beauty, nobility and femininity?”

As Asma al-Assad was born and raised in London, she is often asked just how much she has integrated into Syrian culture. The first lady said while she was living in London she went to Syria every summer and never found Syria or its culture strange. She described herself as embodying British-We stern culture. She emphasized they have also started in Syria the kind of revolution developing countries are currently experiencing. She was mostly impressed by the fashion show she watched in Istanbul, and said that the striking synthesis of the traditional and modern in the fashion world could be applied to real life. She firmly believed the traditional and modern will unite. “Turkey is a very good model for us,” Mrs. Assad said, stressing that Turkey with its synthesis is a role model for the region. The greatest obstacles facing women living in freedom and independently are the customs and traditions, she stated in perfect English. Syria does not only lead Turkey by 10.4 percent in the number of women present in Parliament, it also overwhelmingly leads Turkey in women involvement in local politics. However, the woman is identified with her family not as an individual. The concepts of family and honor are binding for women in Arab culture.

Though Mrs. Assad said, “We keep asking for more, and we want more progress,” it is obvious that the women involved in social and political events are all from the upper class. No woman from the middle or lower class can easily break through the invisible barriers. It is known that there were no civil society organizations (CSOs) until three years ago in Syria, where there is tight state control. Mrs. Assad, who heads the first civil society organization that was established by the state, is also the head of the “independent” CSOs, most of them established under state control. The word “feminism” in questions asked on feminism, headscarf and honor killings made her laugh slightly. I think this reaction stemmed from the conceptual structure of feminism in the East. Mrs. Assad tried to explain that there is individualism and an individual behind feminism, but the fact that Syrian culture is based on the family embraces the cultural structure with a different understanding. I listened to her without forgetting the 100 cases of honor killings that appeared in newspapers in 2000-2003. As I was listening to the first lady, I thought about the very colorful and diverse ethnic structure of Syria, where 30 percent of the population are Nusayris.

The woman’s role as a mother, sister, wife and aunt is important, not her individual rights and demands. 396 of the 767 business women in Syria are entrepreneurs who have established their own business. The newly established SYEA is the first association founded by young entrepreneurs. When she said, “Syrian women are eager and ambitious,” she made a realistic point, in my opinion. “Women are in secondary positions in the society, and the customs and traditions crush them under the mask of religion. Religion is a very private and individual matter,” she insisted. “What is essential is the Holy Qur’an, not practical religion, and we must look at this,” Mrs. Assad said, adding that she also believed in the importance of reaching a consensus with religious scholars. Hence, they have launched an educational project to make religious scholars work for the betterment of women. This is very important, in my opinion, to get women involved through persuasion and education — not by excluding them…

“The 20th century was that of men, and the 21st century will be that of women,” she said as she was shaking hands with the participants. I believe a woman’s hand should reach out to the Middle East.”

Nowadays the role of the Arab Syrian women in agriculture is intensified is as Two IFAD evaluations published in 1999 provide an important perspective on the role of women in agriculture. In Syria, farming usually a household activity, except among the wealthier farm households. Information on labour in agriculture shows that the usual pattern is that women are completely responsible for caring for the livestock and poultry. Grazing is the exception: here men do an estimated 37% of the work. In crop production, women participate at all stages.

Women’s farm work in Syria usually involves the following activities:

¦crop residual collection and pruning

¦animal feeding (which often requires frequent trips to the fields to collect fresh fodder) and

¦milking and egg collection.

However, Syrian women have little role in marketing. In 91 % of households, marketing is a male task. There are obvious implications for control of income generated from the sale of produce or livestock. Rural women in Syria also tend to have little decision-making power within the household on the disposal of family income.

A sociological survey of married rural women found that two thirds of them spent an average of six hours working outside the home. The other third spent seven to ten hours. While much of this time is likely to be spent on the above agricultural tasks, some also goes to fuel and water collection, particularly where sources are far from the home. In addition, women spend a considerable amount of time on work within the home, such as baking bread, preparing meals and looking after children and the elderly. Like women everywhere, they try to combine household tasks and productive tasks.

Women’s labour input is disproportion^ to their control of agricultural resources. An FAO study in Syria found the following pattern of ownership among women:

land: only 5%
animals: about 7%-8%, but with variation according to the type of livestock and the area of the country (males own about 97% of sheep, 93% of cows, 96% of goats and even 98% of chickens) and
Agricultural machinery: 1%.

The agrarian reform of the late seventies redistributed land to all farmers, and Shari’s law rec


Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

USAID works in partnership with the Government of Egypt to reduce gender gaps across a wide range of sectors and activities, including removing constraints to women’s economic participation addressing sexual harassment and gender-based violence and reducing the gender enrollment gap at all levels of education – including improving access for girls to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.

Egypt ranks low in gender equity compared to other countries worldwide. The 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, which measures disparities between men and women across countries, ranks Egypt at 136 out of 145 countries worldwide. Women have significantly lower participation in the labor force than men (26% vs 79%) and lower literacy (65% literacy for women vs 82% of males). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Social Institutions and Gender Index 2014, which measures legislation, practices, and attitudes that restrict women’s rights and opportunities, classifies Egypt to be among the countries ‘very high’ in gender discrimination together with others in Africa and the Middle East. And as revealed by the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, 92% of the ever-married women ages 15-49 interviewed have been circumcised.

ECONOMIC GROWTH: Empowering women and integrating them as active participants in the economy is essential to promoting economic growth in Egypt. According to the IMF, raising the female labor force participation rate to the male level, coupled with access to employment opportunities, would increase GDP by approximately 34 percent. In partnership with the Government of Egypt and the private sector, USAID has a number of activities designed to improve the skills and participation rate of women in the workforce and remove constraints to women’s economic participation in micro, small, and medium enterprises.

For instance, one component of USAID’s Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED) project is to provide business development services to help women launch new businesses – and create new jobs. The Workforce Improvement and Skills Enhancement (WISE) project focuses on skills development through providing teacher training in technical schools, on-the-job training, and employability training for job seekers – with a focus on women and youth. To promote workplace safety and help narrow the gender employment gap in agribusiness, USAID’s Women’s Employment Promotion program focuses on reducing sexual harassment in the agribusiness industry. To encourage women’s participation in areas important to Egypt’s economy, USAID has provided over 600 scholarships since 2014 to female undergraduate and graduate students to study in fields such as business, science, and engineering.

EDUCATION: Recognizing the importance of education in empowering girls and women socially, economically, and politically, USAID works in partnership with the Government of Egypt to encourage equitable access to quality education and ensure impactful learning outcomes starting at the primary level. In secondary education, USAID supports girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics high schools in multiple governorates in Egypt. To improve quality of teaching and learning, USAID has provided equal opportunities for training and professional development to both male and female teachers in public schools. Through the U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative, USAID awarded scholarships to women to pursue master’s in business administration degrees and STEM undergraduate degrees at U.S. universities.

HEALTH: USAID health activities implement and expand on a set of proven interventions focused on improving health behaviors and enhancing the quality of health services while adopting a woman- and girl-centered approach. Activities to address maternal, neonatal, and child health and nutrition have adopted an equity-focused approach by targeting the most vulnerable women and newborns, improving the continuum of care, building the capacity of health care providers, strengthening health systems, promoting communication for behavioral changes, and creating an enabling environment for maternal and newborn health and gender equality.

Gender-related dynamics and constraints are addressed with both health service providers and with the communities and families they serve. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trained to communicate health messages that address gender constraints and decision-making processes within households. CHWs spread messages to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, focusing on early marriage, domestic violence, and female genital cutting. All information, education, and communications materials use gender-sensitive images, model positive gender dynamics, and endeavor to create a supportive environment in local communities that will further sustain behavior change.

GOVERNANCE: USAID supports programs that help build women’s self-confidence, develop their negotiating and network-building skills, and identify sources of information and support. These programs focus on empowering women to identify, prioritize, and take action to address their needs. USAID is also working to strengthen the managerial and technical skills of women to encourage their participation in their communities and to improve coordination among local organizations to reduce gender-based violence (GBV). In 2009, USAID produced the first study on violence against women in Egypt. In 2010, USAID helped the National Council for Women draft a national framework to combat violence against women. This framework became the basis for the country's National Strategy to Combat Violence Against Women in 2015. In addition, in June 2014, Egypt amended its Penal Code to designate sexual harassment as a crime. This amendment was the result of USAID-supported coordination efforts between civil society and the government of Egypt.


Ancient Egypt was divided into two regions, namely Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. To the north was Lower Egypt, where the Nile stretched out with its several branches to form the Nile Delta.

The Nile River flows north through Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea. Ancient Egypt was divided into two regions, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. This looks a bit confusing on a map because Upper Egypt is to the south and Lower Egypt is to the north. This is because the names come from the flow of the Nile River.


Watch the video: What Was Normal Life Like In Ancient Egypt? Ancient Egypt. Timeline