This article analyzes how, for the decade before the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR) promoted women's issues and sustained its campaign against widespread sexual harassment in Egypt. The article also reviews ECWR's activities after the mass mobilizations of the January 25th revolution. In authoritarian states, the risks inherent in challenging the regime decrease the probability that challenges will ever emerge or, if they do, continue for any significant duration. ECWR's prolonged campaign against sexual harassment, however, belies this observation. Analysis of the organization's activities provides an opportunity to examine elements that promote contentious claims making in high-risk, neopatriarchal environments. We found that the depth and strength of networks at the local level played a significant role. Also significant were ties with national and international group, which where were partly facilitated because of tourism's importance in Egypt. Through these ties, the ECWR leadership guided the organization toward increasingly promising outcomes in a unresponsive context. This case illuminates how, in the Middle East and elsewhere, civic organizations that focus on women's issues can navigate high-risk environments, whether due to neopatriarchal culture, authoritarian governance, or both.

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