“We’re not cleaners” – sexism amid Sudan protests

The anti-government protests in Sudan are unwavering despite a state of emergency imposed in February. This is largely thanks to the efforts of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been organising the demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir’s nearly 30-year rule. The body represents health workers, lawyers and teachers, amongst others – though some would argue, not women – even though it is estimated that more than 70% of the protesters who have been out on the streets since December are female. The SPA got itself into hot water when it suggested that instead of a day of scheduled protests on Saturday 9 March, people come out instead to clean the streets. The streets of the capital, Khartoum, are particularly mucky – and it was felt that a good tidy up would restore a sense of pride in the city. Since the protests began, the SPA has been particularly praised for the beautiful language used in its statements calling for action. However, in this instance it struck the wrong tone – urging women in particular to come out for the task because they “cared more about cleaning”. The message was met with outrage by many female protesters – and sparked a debate on social media about the sexism of the uprising. A day later, the SPA, which has female spokesperson, issued a contrite apology.

Zeinab Mohammed Salih in “We’re not cleaners” – sexism amid Sudan protests (BBC)