The remarkable, history-making, courageous women of Egypt

Photo by: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
A kiss that says so much-
This photo has captured the hearts and minds of millions, not only because of the emotion on the faces of an Egyptian woman kissing the ... more 
Photo by: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
A kiss that says so much-
This photo has captured the hearts and minds of millions, not only because of the emotion on the faces of an Egyptian woman kissing the cheek of an Egyptian soldier, would-be opponents in the protest. But as This Atlantic piece notes, it is an astonishing break of public protocol by a woman since women traditionally have been more than discouraged from showing affection in public. less 
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Thu, Oct 6, 2011 3:19 PM EDT
AP Photo/Khalil HamraAP Photo/Khalil HamraThe staggering breadth of the uprising in Egypt and the size of the crowds would not be possible without the historic role the country's women are playing in the political protests. Women are out in the streets, on videos on the Web, on Facebook, and Twitter, speaking out for themselves, their country, and their children.



The sure-footed, big-hearted courage of women is evident in videos like this one put out to the world by Asmaa Mahfouz, who tells others: "Do not be afraid." The time for now is action, and she is taking it, and she is not alone.



As Amr Hamzawy, research director at the Carnegie Middle East Center, who is in central Cairo, says in this New York Times piece on women in Egypt: "Female participation is at an equal standing - just like male participation - and female demonstrators are not shying away from marching despite the tear gas. It's very impressive. It's not about male and female, it's about everyone."



Images like the first in the below slideshow say volumes more than the emotion of one Egyptian woman kissing an Egyptian soldier. As the Atlantic notes, it is far more meaningful than a show of national unity:



"...it was also far more radical than that in a country in which men and women are barely tolerated holding hands in public in the most liberal precincts of comparatively Christian Alexandria, and where public displays of affections are frowned upon and likely to be met with cutting glances and vicious neighborhood gossip elsewhere. "



The images are so powerful coming from a country that only last year saw the passage of a law mandating that 64 new seats in the house must go to women. Even with these reforms, it appears 12 percent of the new parliament will be women members. But in the streets, the strength of their numbers has been keenly felt.



Here, in the United States, media outlets are turning to Mona Eltahawy, whom Jezebel calls "The Woman Who's Explaining Egypt to the West." She has succeeded in getting outlets like CNN to stop using the words "crisis" and "chaos" and adopt "uprising" and "revolt" instead. "Egyptians want to fix Egypt, they don't want to destroy Egypt," she has said.



Here's a look at the women of Egypt through some amazing images from a country amidst great change.