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Egypt's leading female voice for change warns that revolution is backsliding

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“I don’t believe our revolution will succeed until one day we will have a woman president. I don’t believe there can be a democracy unless women are properly in power,” she said in a speech at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Mass., yesterday.

Ziada’s work predates the Tahrir Square events by several years. She helped translate a comic book about Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous 1955 bus boycott in Alabama into Arabic. She helped organize human rights film festivals in Egypt, smuggling in films about the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine and about female genital circumcision. And through her Cairo-based organization, the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, she helped train activists and bloggers from across the region.

Since last year’s revolution, a grim reality has replaced heady optimism in many of the countries that were also convulsed by protests. Syria is mired in a brutal civil war. Yemen is still volatile, despite the ouster of its president. Tunisia is still tense, as society grapples with the question of how prominent a role Islam should play in civic life.

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