|Title||Utilizing mass media in the political empowerment of Egyptian women|
Egyptian women’s activists are widely regarded as pioneers in calling for women’s rights in the Arab world. However, the struggle for women’s rights in Egypt is a complex one that has led to many achievements, but has also involved numerous setbacks. The media has been central throughout this struggle and all of this has always taken place in a highly politicized environment, which involved changes in the state’s approach to women’s rights.
Thus, this study investigates the interplay between women, media and politics in Egypt. It uses theories of authoritarianism that have been used to describe the nature of the incumbent Egyptian regime, as well as notions pertaining to the corporatist tactics it resorts to in order to analyze the manner in which the state deals with women’s activists and their access to the media. This involves a particular emphasis on the privately owned media which has flourished in Egypt in recent years. Also, because the Egyptian government is directly and actively involved in ‘women’s issues’, the study uses the notion of state feminism to analyze its efforts in this regard and how they relate to media treatment of women and their rights. In addition, the study draws on theories of post and neo colonialism to analyze how efforts in the area of women’s rights by both the government and activists relate to the international framework, which promotes a specific version of women’s rights.
This is done by interviewing female members of political parties, NGOs and a governmental women’s organization, as well as using archival research to analyze the information available in the publications of these organizations. Other methods employed in this study are critical discourse analysis to analyze media treatment of women’s political empowerment, in addition to focus groups to investigate Egyptian female audiences’ reception of political drama.
As a result, the study breaks new ground in theorizing the relationship between the state and women’s activists and thus explains the activists’ media access. It also develops the notion of state feminism and relates it to the media. Finally, the study reveals and theorizes how the privately owned media in Egypt is subtly controlled by the state.