Women who actively participated in Egypt’s January 25 uprising exhibited a strong sense of agency, according to Nermin Allam, a visiting scholar at Princeton University. Yet, she argued at a recent panel hosted by the AUC Forum, women activists shied away from women’s rights demands during the Arab Spring due to three factors: Egypt’s legacy of nationalist discourse, the influence of regime-sponsored feminism, and the protest culture of commonality.
“Because women experienced a sense of equality and solidarity, many felt that at the time that there was no need to include group-based demands,” she explained. “And many believed that at that time the agenda of women’s rights would sit comfortably in the post-uprising’s agenda.” While some look back with disappointment, Allam said she prefers to laud the agency women expressed during the revolution rather than mourn their plight.
At a lecture hosted by AUC’s Middle East Studies Center, Indian Ambassador Sanjay Bhattacharyya outlined expanding Indian–Egyptian relations following President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last September. Bhattacharyya cited defense cooperation including counterterrorism; economic cooperation with a growing number of Indian companies investing in Egypt; and cultural cooperation through academic exchanges, festivals, and exhibitions. He spoke warmly of historic ties between the two countries, including the bond of brotherhood that developed during the fight against Western colonialism. “Nehru and Nasser built this wonderful friendship between them, which was an inspiration, not just for their own people in their own countries, but also to what it meant to the regions around their countries,” he said.