The findings indicate there is support among both men and women for women’s involvement in various political roles, yet men display lower support. Furthermore, even though Egyptians say they support women in political roles, they still overwhelmingly say they would prefer a male legislator to represent them in parliament. As Egypt transitions to an electoral democracy, it should be kept in mind that there is a contingent of men and even some women who oppose women in political roles. This will be a hurdle for women to overcome during this period of transition and reform.
Majority of Egyptians Support Women in Political Roles, but a Sizeable Portion Oppose Women in these Roles
In this time of transition in Egypt, women have an opportunity to push for reforms, particularly in the political arena. The data from this survey shows some positive support for women in political roles, yet a disparity of support between genders and sometimes religious groups is observed.
Majorities of Egyptians say they support women in various political roles; however, responses are often nearly split between strong support and moderate support, and at the same time, around one quarter of Egyptians say they strongly oppose women in each of these roles.
Respondents say they strongly or somewhat support women working in election administration (68%); being members of political parties (68%); heading a political party (58%); working for a candidate during a campaign (61%); running as candidates in elections (64%); serving in parliament (68%); serving as ministers (68%); or participating in political protests (61%).
Nevertheless, there is a significant proportion of Egyptians, around one-third, who oppose women in these roles; between 20% and 30% of that opposition say they strongly oppose women in each of these roles.
When looking at responses by gender, we see majorities of both men and women supporting women in the various political roles; however, higher percentages of women support women in each of these roles, and higher percentages of men oppose women in each these roles. Over one-third of Egyptian men oppose women in each of these roles (Figure 1).
Even though most Egyptians say they support women in political roles in theory, when asked whether they would in practice prefer a male legislator or a woman legislator to represent them in parliament provided that they were equally qualified, Egyptians overwhelmingly would prefer a man to represent them in parliament. Eighty-three percent of men and even 68% of women would prefer a male legislator. Seventy-seven percent of Muslims and 59% of Christians would prefer a male legislator (Figure 2).
Among those who said they would prefer a woman to represent them in parliament, the first two reasons include women’s equality (30%) or to give a voice for women (26%). Other reasons given include the belief that women are better suited to certain issues (16%); women are more responsible (13%); women are more responsive to needs of society (13%); women are more ethical (9%); or the feeling that men have failed to improve things (7%).
Those who would prefer a male legislator cite reasons such as men are stronger (49%); men are natural leaders (31%); and the interpretation from the Quran that men are the protectors and maintainers of women (30%). Other responses stated include men are more interested in politics (18%); women have family responsibilities (9%); and men are smarter (6%).