Women in Egyptian Journalism – Script (en)

Joris Beetz, Zoe Uellendahl & Mattis Venker

Since the takeover of President al-Sisi in 2014, press freedom in Egypt has deteriorated with the establishment of new media politics, according to Reporters Without Borders. One reason for this deterioration is the accumulation of media ownership under government and military control. Journalists in Egypt are facing different forms of government repression, even imprisonment.

Women in Egypt started to work in journalism in the middle of the twentieth century, and most of them were part of the women’s rights movement. The number of women in Journalism is rising.

The general situation for women in Egyptian society is shaped by disadvantage: 93% of Egyptian women have been victims of sexual violence, according to a United Nations survey.

To get insight into the daily routine Journalism for female journalists, two experts were interviewed on their daily routine working in the field. The focus on the questions were on possible discrimination due to laws, harassment by co-workers and pressuring circumstances.


What were the hurdles compared to male colleagues?

Dr. Sara Elmaghraby, researcher and lecturer at Cairo University: 

When you just go and apply for a job as a journalist after your graduation, you have very high hopes and you think that the world is open for you and everything is accessible, but then you discover that there are obstacles that are facing you because you are a women, because the first thing that the editor-in-chief would ask you would be: “Are you planning on doing any family-stuff? Because if you are, then I am going to favour a man over you.” And that was like a question of “Okay, you do not ask men these questions, why do you ask me these questions?”

Dr. Inas Abou Youssef, Dean of the Faculty of Mass Communication at Ahram Canadian University, Cairo:

Before I began my job in academia, I was in Ahram organisation [a big media publishing house], I was getting a training and an internship there. And unfortunately, they said that they cannot appoint me because I am a woman and they are not ready for having many women in the foreign desk, because the foreign desk needs late shifts and they prefer the male colleagues over the female.


How are the proportions of women in the Egyptian media?

Dr. Sara Elmaghraby, researcher and lecturer at Cairo University:

In the leading roles, women are definitely underrepresented in Egypt. I would say that there is one or two at most of the editors-in-chief [who are] women in Egyptian newspapers and let me tell you that these female editors-in-chief, they are editors-in-chiefs of publications that are concerned with women. But when it comes to political, general, governmental newspapers indeed, all of these are governed and the compositions of these newspapers are basically by men and no woman has until now succeeded to be editor-in-chief of one of these huge publications that are not categorized as women’s magazines.

Dr. Sara Elmaghraby, researcher and lecturer at Cairo University: 

Let me tell you that on paper, we gain the same wages. The problem is, that in the point of view of the editor-in-chief, who is basically a man, he favours men to cover the stories. So basically at the end, as a woman, you would find yourself writing less stories than men and then accordingly, when you are a young journalist, you get paid by story, so at the end of the day, you find yourself gaining less than men, because they were favoured more in covering stories. You are categorised as not being capable or not being able to do as good as men. But when it comes to reality and real life, there is some sort of discrimination

Dr. Inas Abou Youssef, Dean of the Faculty of Mass Communication at Ahram Canadian University, Cairo: 

We have the same salary as our male colleagues, but when you talk about laws and regulations, males have got some tax privileges. They are exempted when they are married from some taxes and we are not even if we are married. That is because we have the culture that he is the one responsible for the family.


How do you experience your daily work with male supervisors and colleagues?

Dr. Inas Abou Youssef, Dean of the Faculty of Mass Communication at Ahram Canadian University, Cairo:

I was the head of the Media and Women Research Centre, we have been having so many female journalists who have been suffering, especially in the ERTU [the national broadcaster], from harassment from the male colleagues and especially male supervisors.

Dr. Sara Elmaghraby, researcher and lecturer at Cairo University: 

Also lots of editors-in-chief have said: “Okay, it is too dangerous for you, you are a woman, do not go out, do not cover this, thank you, we have other staff and this staff are men. It is less dangerous for you.” As some sort of telling you: “You are not good enough to cover this story.” So basically these very interesting stories were also covered by men and this would favour men definitely when it comes to promotion, when it comes maybe to a better job opportunity.


What could the future look like?

Dr. Inas Abou Youssef, Dean of the Faculty of Mass Communication at Ahram Canadian University, Cairo:

If you are talking about gender equality, I think the future is looking more into the qualification than into the gender right now. I think that the whole atmosphere needs to be changed in order to improve the future or to have a better insight considering the future of Egyptian media at that point.

As the experts say, Egypt has a strongly patriarchal society, which is also visible in the field of journalism, as shown by the lack of time for training because of women’s responsibility to care for their family. In addition, men in some cases have taxation privileges and a better reputation in general that enables them to attain senior positions in their fields. For women in Egypt, there is a “glass ceiling”, that keeps women from reaching senior positions, especially management jobs in media companies.

The problems in journalism in general are mostly due to the political repression of specific content and control of the media by the government and the military.

Currently more and more organizations and NGOs are developing, supporting women and their journalistic career and fighting for legitimate job opportunities.


Khalik-Hilper, S. (2016). Auswirkungen der Sozialisation im Kontext von Lebens- und Arbeitsalltag ägyptischer Journalistinnen. Erfurt: Philosophische Fakultät der Universität Erfurt, https://www.db-thueringen.de/servlets/MCRFileNodeServlet/dbt_derivate_00045189/khalik-hilper.pdf.

A Ph.D. Paper researching the sociological background of women journalism in Egypt.

Reporters without borders (2019). The Media Ownership Monitor: Egypt. https://www.mom-rsf.org/en/countries/egypt/

Media Ownership Monitor of the NGO Reporters without Borders that shows the current control, ownership and influence of and over particular media infrastructure as part of with the whole media system of the country, in this case Egypt.

World Economic Forum (2017). The Global Gender Gap Report. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2017.pdf .

Report of the World economic forum about the difference of women payment in difference to men in general and within the same job in particular.

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