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Ancient Egyptian Women Shared the Same Legal Rights As Men

Ancient Egyptian Women Shared the Same Legal Rights As Men

The Middle East is often labeled as a no-(wo)man's land for progressive human rights.

According to a 2,480-year-old document, this phenomenon was far from standard in ancient Egypt.

Scholars have found that ancient Egyptian women were granted the same legal rights as men. These dated documents — many in the form of lengthy scrolls — have details about ancient prenuptial agreements made to ensure the wife's well-being in case of a separation.

Professor Janet H. Johnson noted that the majority of these contracts "were extremely advantageous to the wife."

Women also had the right to a handful of other rights such as filing for divorce, acquiring and owning property, and even serving on juries as witnesses in the court.

Unfortunately, economic equality did not always grant women complete freedom from societal constraints; women's social status still remained inferior to men's. The same record also shows that women had to sell themselves into slavery for financial security. 

One text eerily mirrors the continued struggle for equality that women sill face today against sexism stating, "A woman is asked about her husband, a man is asked about his rank."

Two thousand years later and the fight for ending sexism remains as relevant as ever.

Read more of the story here.

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