The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Dec 05, 2012
 

Arab Spring to take years to improve women's rights: Activists

 
 

LONDON (REUTERS) - The Arab Spring has failed to deliver greater political power to women in the region or to offer them better protection from sexual harassment, but may yet yield female-friendly reform, a conference on women's rights heard on Tuesday.

Human rights campaigners had hoped that women's involvement in protests that toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen and overthrew Muammar Gaddafi in Libya would lead to more power for women in Arab states.

The uprisings unseated a string of autocrats and triggered some change, including relatively free elections. But two years after the first uprising erupted, activists said women had seen precious few gains and that the rise of Islamist governments in the region was fuelling concern about growing conservatism. Ms Sally Moore, an activist from the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, described recent changes in Egypt as "alarming", saying a proposed constitution drafted by only men would endanger women's rights and social justice.

The draft constitution will be put to a vote on Dec 15. "It feels like two years have gone by and with all these sacrifices for nothing," she told the conference, organised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International Herald Tribune.