Egypt: Seminar on status of Egyptian women after the revolution

Egyptian Center for Women's Rights

The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights held a seminar entitled "Towards a fair representation in the Parliament" on Monday, April 4, 2011. 70 male and female participants including heads of parties, political experts, legal experts, activists, heads of NGOs and male and female parliamentary representatives as well as male and female media workers attended the seminar. The seminar started with a speech by Mrs. Nehad Abul Komsan, head of ECWR, who tackled political problems and challenges that Egyptian women face after the 25th of January Revolution. She outlined the outputs of a report on the status of Egyptian women after the revolution and praised the stance of the Tagammu' party that submitted a draft law stating the necessity of women's representation in nomination with a minimum percentage of 30%. She praised the initiative of young men of the Muslim Brotherhood that involved women in all organizational structures of the party or the group with a minimum percentage of 25%. Mrs. Mageda Abdel Badel, member of the Women's Union at the Tagammu' Party, outlined a draft law the party had previously submitted which assures the necessity of voting through a proportional representation list system with a minimum representation of 30% of any of the two genders in order to guarantee a better representation of women.

In addition, Mrs. Kamilia Shokry assured that the Wafd Party wants to apply an unconditional proportional representation list system. Dr. Amany Al Taweel, an expert at the Ahram Strategic Center, spoke of the recent situation regarding the absence of the only pressure lobby "the National Council for Women" and regarding the rise of anti-women powers. Thus, she assured the necessity of working hard and cooperating with the transitional government and the military council, as well as the importance of controlling the Salafi trend. Dr. Emad Gad, an expert at the Ahram Strategic Center, assured the necessity of working on two levels; the first is the comprehensive level that tries to solve problems of democracy and the second level is working on women's support and assuring her participation in all stages of the democratic transition.
Participants assured the necessity of holding elections according to the proportional representation list system, with a minimum representation that is no less than 30%. In addition, women’s names should be enlisted in progressed places in order to guarantee the success of a reasonable percentage. Participants agreed on the following:
  • Assuring the fact that achievements of women are national ones and have nothing to do with either regimes or wives of presidents, yet they are gains of a national struggle that started in 1919. They assured to exert efforts to preserve women's gains as social gains in the Egyptian society.
They agreed also on key demands:
  • Revising the best electoral systems that guarantees women's participation in decision making, topped by a proportional representation list system, in addition to enlisting names of female candidates in an order that guarantees the presence of one female candidate in the first three names, and one female candidate in the third icon of four names; thus there will be 3 female candidates on 10 male candidates, a system that is known by (3/3/4). The adoption of this system at the nomination guarantees a percentage of women's presence in the elected councils from 10% to 15%.
Moreover, the proportional representation list system (3/3/4) is distinguished by:
  • It guarantees a chance of parliamentary representation to all sectors and opinions. Differentiation in each lists' percentage of representation causes differentiation in the percentage of votes.
  • Many legal experts and politicians prefer the proportional representation list system that allows choice on the basis of ideas, principles and programs submitted by parties of the list system
  • The proportional representation list system prevents the domination of tribal tendencies
  • It also bans the control of the capital and its indulgence to ruin the voters' will. In addition, it allows voting on the basis of personal characteristics which are the basis of choosing the preferred candidate.
  • We have to put into account that the proportional representation list system will oblige parties to choose good members to top the parties’ lists, and it will lead to the representation of marginalized sectors of the Egyptian society; it will be a tool to enhance the representation of women, young people and Copts.
  • Positive dialogue with political powers, especially the new ones, in order to enhance women's participation
  • The necessity of inserting gender issues in the educational curricula, and emphasizing the good examples of women who participate in public work.
  • The necessity of teaching curricula on human rights and the importance of social gender in higher education
  • The necessity of working on changing the discriminatory culture and the inferior look on women in media channels and society.