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A new Egyptian Constitution fair to women

February 25, 2011

Lesley Abdela writes: In February 2011, immediately after the removal of the Mubarak regime, Egyptian women started to agitate for firm commitments on Women’s Rights from the Constitutional Committee set up by the Military Command.  Egypt’s women played a very significant role in the 2011 Revolution, coming out in their many thousands on to the streets and squares of Cairo and provincial towns.  To historians it was reminiscent of the women just before World War Two who came out on the streets of the Capital to agitate against the high cost of bread, now considered the very first open rebellion anywhere in the world against French Colonial rule.  

As soon as the Supreme Council of Egypt’s armed forces ordered Mubarak to leave office, suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament, and formed the all-male committee to draft a new Constitution for the country, women’s groups began to organise. On February 17 2011 the Egyptian Center For Women’s Rights circulated a petition in English and Arabic worldwide headed ‘Constitutional committee starts working while neglecting and excluding female legal experts’. In particular, it was felt specific guarantees covering the political representation of women need to be written into Egypt’s new Constitution to ensure a significant women’s Parliamentary presence, to help guide the country’s future. 

Soon, material was sent by the international community to the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights containing excerpts from other Constitutions palpably beneficial to women’s human and political rights, in particular excerpts from the  Constitutions of Iraq, Rwanda, Nepal and Kenya which guarantee a minimum level of women in Parliament. 

In Iraq, after the fall of the Saddam regime, Iraqi women activists and international Gender/post-conflict experts worked successfully to get a guaranteed 25% minimum quota for women parliamentarians written into the new Constitution.  If it had not become a Constitutional requirement, it is estimated only one Iraqi woman – from the Kurdish regions – would have entered Parliament, rather than nearly 30%.

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From → Hic Salta

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