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Egyptians in 'Million Woman March' Defy Hecklers

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Hundreds of Egyptian women, inspired by the recent uprising, returned to Cairo’s central Tahrir square recently and faced down a mob of men heckling them and ordering them to go home.

The women’s “Million Woman March” was planned to mark International Women’s Day and demand more women appointees by the new prime minister, who has appointed only one to his cabinet despite the sizeable participation of women in the uprisings that lead to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

"(The hecklers) said our role was to stay home and raise presidents, not to run for president," Farida Helmy, a 24-year old journalist told a reporter.

“I thought we were going to be celebrated as women of the revolution because we were present during the days of Tahrir," Passant Rabie said to a reporter. "Unless women are included now, we are going to be oppressed."

Rabie said she was surprised to find women being verbally abused and groped after the role they played in the citizen revolt. Women had been central to the protests, leading chants, spending cold nights in the square and even fighting during the battle of Black Wednesday, when pro-government henchmen attacked the protesters.

Commenting on the heckling, feminist activist Mona Ezzat blamed it on the old regime. “This is a natural product of the long years of dictatorship," Ezzat told Ahram Online.

“We need to change social and cultural concepts about what women's role is to begin with. That is one of the biggest battles,” says Yasmine Khalifa, a graduate student. “This is a long process and today's event is not a beginning, it's just a continuation of the revolution.”

In a related development, thousands of women in the Ivory Coast taking part in a Women’s Day march while protesting the continuation of rule by President Laurent Gbagbo came under gunfire. Four fatalities were reported.

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