A curious image is displayed on a wall outside the American University in Cairo’s Tahrir Square campus. Inconspicuous at first glance, the red and white chess board is more than a game. The pawns are grouped together at one end, and an upside-down king is flanked by bishops, knights, and castles at the other. An apt metaphor, to many revolutionaries, of how a ruler was toppled yet strongmen remained in power.
Women in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) are making appreciable strides in social development. They now outnumber men attending universities in most Arab countries. Disparities in literacy and enrollment in primary and secondary education have fallen dramatically in the last few decades. The impact of these changes can be seen in the labor market as well. As a result of better educational opportunities and growing economies, employment for women has been rising at a faster rate than for men.
Vendors in Tahrir Square have been doing a brisk business selling T-shirts of various colorful designs that usually have “January 25” emblazoned on the front. Certainly the first day of the Egyptian revolution, when tens of thousands initially gathered in Cairo’s central square, was a milestone. Now, with the television cameras largely gone and souvenir stands taking over, the revolution might appear to be over. Egyptians know better, perhaps none more than Hossam El-Hamalawy.
Egypt, led by Egyptians, is today at a very special juncture. Egyptians have a remarkable opportunity to shape a new and better destiny for their country. And the rare combination of both willingness and ability comes wrapped in a new sense of purpose, energy and engagement on the direction of the country.
Upon entering the office of the American University in Cairo President Lisa Anderson, you’ll admire the beautiful colored globe prominently displayed on a table. But dozens of globes? There’s a collection of smaller globes on a bookshelf. There are bowls of tiny globes (key chains, actually) on a coffee table. Globes, globes, everywhere.
Butler is harsh on the tendency in the West, especially among feminists, to categorically condemn the veil. “Negotiating questions of sexuality and gender is not always done according to the same language you find in the U.S. or in France,” she explains.
Due to its geography and political standing, Egypt has interacted with the wider world throughout its long history. In taking its place on the international stage, it has produced honored statesmen and Nobel laureates. It has provided numerous global public servants, including a secretary general of the United Nations and a director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.