Presidential Aide for Political Affairs Pakinam al-Sharqawy has denied allegations that the Egyptian delegation accompanying her withdrew when she delivered Egypt’s statement at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women held last week at the UN headquarters in New York.
Sharqawy told state-owned news agency MENA that before traveling to the US, the presidency and the National Council for Women coordinated efforts to distribute the tasks of members of the official delegation. She said she delivered Egypt’s statement at the opening of session as president of the delegation, which she said was itself proof that the status of women is a priority for the Egyptian presidency.
Sharqawy also said that Secretary General of the National Council for Human Rights Mervat al-Tellawy was sitting next to her almost until the end of the sessions.
In the statement she delivered at the UN, Sharqawy highlighted the role of Egyptian women in the revolution and transition period, and the how the revolution has helped women become better aware of their role. She emphasized the need to preserve the gains from the revolution and mentioned the efforts exerted by the state to combat violence against women in the short and long term.
Sharqawy also said in the statement that there is a need to strike a balance between the common factors that unite people across cultures and the cultural specificity of each society.
Feminist activists in Egypt issued a statement in response pointing to how talk about cultural specificity is used to justify disregard of human rights agreements to which the government is a party. They said that claims of cultural specificity are used to support discriminatory and violent practices against women such as female circumcision and sexual harassment.
Sharqawy also drew attention to the situation of Arab women beyond Egypt saying, “In light of what Syrian and Palestinian women are subjected to I have to mention their suffering. Isn't what Syrian women are subjected to the most extreme form of violence? Have we become so isolated from our Arab region and so phobic of mentioning Arab sufferings such that mentioning Palestinian women has become an accusation that requires defense and clarification.”
Edited translation from MENA