I spent a whole week visiting Egypt for personal reasons but with a visit last day discussing with colleagues on the Arab spring and the particular case of Egypt, with a visit to the Arab League and going to the airport just at the time that police punished protesters with a tragic death toll.
Many things to share but one of those is the paradox happened while talking about the situation of women in Egypt in the same week as the Nobel Peace Prize is decided in favor of three brave and committed women.
I was able to talk a lot with Fatima, a 34 years old women, historian by profession, Muslim, single, childless, highly educated, with a clear vision of politics in general and on Egypt in particular. With a personal perspective on the revolution, which speaks loudly of her independent mind and …. to some extent, deeply frustrated by the constraints that culture surrounds her, shapes her life in a way that is not what she wants.
“Neither religion nor law imposes no limitation to me” says, “what really limits it me is a patriarchal mentality in my family and in most men I know and a good number of women.” “They wanted me to marry a man who was incapable of writing a text message without committing three errors in spelling, a cousin of mine, when I refused, was a great tragedy for my family, a shame, since we are not connected with that part of the family ”
The submission of women throughout the world is terrible, it is true that there are different places and situations; it is true that in some places such submission is formalized by law or religious rules. But it is even truer than in many other places this formalization does not exist but there is de facto. Fatima’s case is one of them. But have you tried to name countries that have had a female president or female prime minister? Sure you find a few, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Ireland, United Kingdom, Chile, Nicaragua, Liberia, Iceland, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Denmark, Brazil, Germany, Panama, India, Pakistan, Philippines …. So until thirty, we can still quote them, because of its scarcity but have you tried to name countries that have had two or more female presidents?, try it now, with male presidents and see how easy it is.
That is why the latter Nobel is so critical because the role model it represents, because it puts at the heart of the debate the power and the transformational and creative capacity women have; when usually this enormous power is darkened, and the submission of women is de facto the status quo in our societies, because our mental models relegate them to a second place.
So thinking of Fatima and the still daunting task of breaking down stereotypes I leave you with a campaign video of “The Women’s Media Center” that aims to just do that, breaking down stereotypes, (ht to Alex Evans).
 Argentina(2), Ireland(2), Philippines(2), San Marino(10) y Switzerland(7)