The paper aims to explore the relationship between informal institutions, institutional change and gender equality in the context of the political struggle that took place in the aftermath of the 25 January uprising in Egypt. The paper argues that although the 25 January revolution presented Egyptian feminists with an excellent opportunity to put gender equality on the political agenda and build gender equality issues into the fabric of the new institutional and governmental blueprints and structures, they have failed to do so for several reasons. First, because of the monopoly exercised by two powerful inherently conservative patriarchal institutions, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and the Military establishment, not only over the formal political institutions, but also over informal institutions. The paper uses a single case study approach analyzed from a feminist institutionalist perspective. It draws upon insights from existing literature and upon the author’s personal experience as first-hand witness to these events, as well as semi-structured interviews with a number of prominent feminists representing different political and ideological schools. This method was chosen to gain deeper insights into the perceptions of feminists who were directly involved in the events of that ‘critical juncture’ either through formal political institutions, or informally through engagement in street politics, about the multiple intersecting and complex institutional barriers, constraining women’s agency during that time.

Note on the Author

Rasha Mansour is currently a lecturer of political science and the program director of the Political Science Department at the British University in Egypt. She received her PhD from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University. Her research has focused on diverse issues including identity politics in the context of forced migration and gender politics in the Arab world.