Meet Sabah al-Sakkari, the bold woman who is running to replace Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as head of the Muslim Brotherhood Party. She's a mother with 4 children and a veterinary professor husband, and a pharmacy degree, and she sounds like a formidable candidate. Read about her here and here, and if that doesn't satisfy your curiosity or answer your questions, just google "Egyptian woman runs to head Muslim Brotherhood" and you will find just under 4 million links that should surely reveal all of the info you are looking for.
In the midst of a heavy news day yesterday where every story was about the presidential debate here in the U.S., I heard this blip on NPR about what is happening over in Egypt, and I about fell out of my seat (but I was driving and had my seat belt on, thankfully). I couldn't believe my ears. A woman----in Egypt's current climate-----one who says she will definitely run for Egypt's presidency????? How could that be?
I mean really. Here we sit in the good old United States, a country that loves to bask in its reputation, real and imagined, as being one of the (or even the only) beacons for female equality in the world, and it is EGYPT who will field a credible female candidate for president? Again I ask----how could that be? I mean Egypt is heading BACKWARDS for women right now, or so the story goes. The Muslim Brotherhood's PR in the western world is that it wants to enslave women, take away all of their rights, and blast the poor women back to the Stone Age (not meaning to insult the Stone Age) treating them as nothing more than chattel. So in the midst of all of that perception, a woman is rising up to the top?? Really???
Ms. al Sakkari insists that she is running on her own, not as a piece of window dressing to give a better impression of the Muslim Brotherhood to the rest of the world. She also insists that if she were being used as a token, she would drop out. To be honest, I don't care why she is where she is. We women don't often get ANY opening to head much so when the offer comes, even if it is a bit tainted, we need to grab these opportunities when they show up. Each step up the ladder is a step up for all women. And bully to Sabah al-Sakkari for going for it.
But of course, it leads me to the troubling and disquieting question of why it is that Egypt, of all countries, ranking #140 in the world in female representation in government, and representing itself as a total patriarchical country with the Muslim Brotherhood currently at the helm may end up with a female president long before the U.S. does. I'm not saying that it will play out this way. I'm just saying that it COULD end up that way and what does that say about women who are aiming for power in the United States? We look down our nose at a country like Egypt who is clearly tamping down women's rights, or so it seems. And yet our own country doesn't have much to write home about in the "women in power" scenario and discussion. We have had two women here run for the nomination for president on the two major party tickets in the past 20 years (kindly correct me someone if I have my facts wrong here), Hillary Clinton and Michele Bachmann, and they were both treated like a cancer that we couldn't get rid of fast enough.
In that we are no better than most countries. Until we have a truly gender neutral power structure on all levels here in the U.S., there is little room to smirk about how behind other countries are. We look like the pot calling the kettle black, a really stupid thing. So in that spirit, I, a Jewish American woman, am cheering Sabah al-Sakkari on. Maybe a woman winning the top position in the Muslim Brotherhood might wake up a few souls here in the U.S. to the fact that our promise of equality as it extends to women is still a dream, not a reality. You go girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!