Welcoming Egypt's more gender-equal constitution

(Protestors issue a red card to former president Morsi)

Gender Concerns is encouraged to see the development of Egypt’s new Constitution, which will provide more protection of women’s rights. The constitution that passed into law on January 16 was widely supported, winning 90% approval or more according to recent state sources in Egypt. It is a commendable step that the government is taking to support Egyptian women’s empowerment.

Following the failure of the parliament elected in 2012 to make significant women’s rights reforms, Egypt has been under pressure from women’s rights organizations. Feminists had seen the elections as an opportunity to push for more gender equality in the post-conflict country. Women’s participation is an essential element of a stable democracy. Only with the equal representation of men and women can gender related issues such as discrimination, child care, education, political representation, rape, domestic violence and divorce law be addressed.

The Egyptian Center of Woman Rights issued a statement about the new constitution, calling it “a victory for women’s rights." The constitution generates more protection for women in both public and private life. Article 6 in particular guarantees women’s rights to full citizenship in stipulating that “Nationality is the right of a person born to an Egyptian father or an Egyptian mother. The legal recognition of that person and the granting of official documents proving that person’s personal details are rights guaranteed and regulated by law. The law shall determine the conditions for acquiring nationality.”

Furthermore, there has been a shift in terms of women’s involvement in the decision-making process. According to Article 11, “the state shall take measures that ensure women are properly represented in representative assemblies, as prescribed by law, and shall guarantee women the right to hold public office and the highest administrative roles in the country, as well as their appointment to judicial bodies and authorities, without discrimination.”

Gender Concerns International looks forward to working with local women’s organizations in Egypt.