(Cairo March 2nd, 2014) Egyptian women took part in great numbers in the Revolution of 25 January 2011 and its course correction on 30 June 2013. In fact, Egyptian women have been the mainstay of the political arena over previous years, braving the politically motivated abuse directed at them, such as the sexual harassment of female political activists and of all those who demand a woman’s right to freedom, to express herself and to call for the downfall of Fascist regimes.
Despite women participating in all aspects of life in Egypt, women are strikingly absent from decision making roles. This is in clear violation of Article 11 of the new Constitution which stipulates that women should be properly represented in senior positions.
The new government of new Prime Minister, Dr Ibrahim Mehleb, includes only four female Ministers, two of whom were Ministers in the previous government, ie. Dr Doria Sharaf Eddin, Minister of Information and Dr Laila Iskandar, Minister for the Environment. The two female newcomers are Nahed Hassan Ashry, Minister of Manpower and Immigration and Ghada Waley, Minister of Social Solidarity. This means that despite two Revolutions, for which women fought in great numbers, the proportion of women in Cabinet is only 12%. This percentage is in stark contrast to population percentages or to the contribution made by women to the country’s economic activity which stands at 30% in the formal sector and nearly 70% in the informal sector.
This percentage also shows how successive governments turn a blind eye to the expertise on offer by women, consistently ignoring all economic development reports which stress that having women participate in decision-making challenges corruption and contributes to the optimal investment of resources. One would have expected close to half of Dr Mehleb’s Cabinet to be women, given his background in the building, construction and infrastructure field where there are women engineers and highly skilled female experts doing a great deal to tackle corruption in this sector.
ECWR therefore regards this percentage as a danger sign along the road to sound, democratic transition and to the building of a democratic country based on citizenship and equality.
This percentage is also an indication that the Egyptian Constitution, which was approved by an overwhelming proportion of Egyptians, is still mere ink on a page and does not have the force of law amongst any officials. It also gives cause for concern about women’s representation on any of our elected assemblies or on committees appointed by a people’s assembly, on our local councils and on other representative bodies where decisions are made.
ECWR therefore calls for the application of quotas for women in all government and ministerial positions in order to make participation in politics by women a reality in Egypt. There is no doubt that there are many qualified, competent women in all fields who deserve to take up their rightful place and contribute to developing our society and building its institutions.
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