13 January 2013

Egypt: With No Consolation for Women Shuraa' Legislative Committee Intend the Exclusion of Woman in the Next Election

press release

The undersigned express their resentment towards the amendments of parliament's law in addition to the amendments of practicing political rights law that were stated by the legislative committee of Shuraa' Council headed by the deputy Mohamed Toson. The committee has cancelled putting women in the first half of the list that includes more than four candidates. This, in turn; aims at excluding woman in the next elections, the matter which contradicts with democracy and does not represent the half of the parliament

The undersigned also condemn this law as it ignores and "wastes" the largest voting power, 23 million voters from the registered voters in records. This power is being sought by all political parties to vote for them in the elections, while being rejected to be represented in the parliament by a weak argument which states that "obliging the parties to put woman in a specific arrangement in the electoral list is a barefaced intervention in the parties' management and contradicts with equal opportunities". In addition, the undersigned assure their rejection to the declarations which state that the addition of this clause in the election's law is a waiver to satisfy the civil trend and an accusation of being trafficking with women's issue

Shuraa' legislative committee cancelled this clause, although the government has approved and kept it in its bill. Although the judge Omar El Sherif, the assistant of minister of justice, has defended the constitutionality of this article considering it as a positive discrimination, yet the Islamic parties represented in "El Nour", "Al Banaa wa El Tanmya", "Al Amal" and a number of independent individuals among which law professors form a majority in voting on cancelling these clause in article no. 3 in the law

The undersigned stress that women did not get any new gains in the law after the committee has cancelled what it has been agreed upon in the dialogue committee concerning putting women in the first half of the list, as the statement of putting women in the list is not new one and cannot be considered a discrimination since it was there in the old law

Accordingly, the undersigned claim the necessity of reviewing the recently stated elections' law since it totally violates the Egyptian women's right and her representation in the next parliament, in a way that is matching with her strong and effective participation at all levels since 25th January revolution till now. Especially as Egypt is one of the signatories states on CEDAW Convention which obliges all the signatories with appropriate representation of women. The seventh article in this convention states that "States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right

(a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies;

(b) To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government;

(c) To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country".

Also the third article states that "States Parties shall take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men"

Besides article no. 4 states that "Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved. So this law contradicts with this convention"

It is worth mentioning that with the outbreak of July Revolution in 1952 and according to the constitution of 1956, the Egyptian woman gets her right to vote in the elections and nominating for the membership of political and legislative bodies. Also the Egyptian constitution of 1971 has asserted these rights, and in 1957 the Egyptian woman joined the parliament for the first time, and the first female minister in the Egyptian government was appointed in 1962

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