Rights groups protest limited number of women’s seats in Parliament
Women protest at Talaat Harb Square - YOUM7 (Archive)
BY AYA SAMIR

Egyptian women are voicing dissatisfaction with a recent law that limits the number of women allowed to participate in the next parliament.

“The new law is not satisfying for women’s ambitions, and contrasts with the principles of equal opportunity issued by the Constitution… the individual system in the elections is not enhancing or helping women,” Margret Azar, a member of the National Women’s Council told Al-Masry Al-Youm last June.

She added that the law excludes women from the political scene.

Article 11 of the Egyptian Constitution states that both women and men should enjoy the same rights in all parts of life, including politics.  But, the recently issued parliamentary law allocates only a handful of seats for women in Parliament, which caused anger among many women’s rights activists.

The group Nazra for Feminine Studies signed a joint statement with 17 other NGOs last May, expressing “deep concern” about the proposed amendments that they say have not taken into account the situation of women or the challenges facing them.

Originally the parliamentary law stated the parliamentary election will run only with the individual system and the closed list system, with a maximum of three women in a list. Due to outrage from women’s rights organizations, the amending committee for parliamentary law and political rights later changed the list maximum to five women.

Salma El Nakash, a women’s rights activist, told El-Masryoon newspaper in a statement last June that she expected more from the amendments, and that the law would allow at least 50 percent of seats for women in both the individual and list electoral systems.

A quota system was applied in Egypt before the January 25 Revolution and it guaranteed a particular percentage for women in the Parliament, but it also faced criticism.

“The applied quota system does not actually represent Egyptian women, as they earned this right to participate after what they did in the past revolution,” Nazra said in an April 2011 statement.

Mozn Hassan, the head of Nazra, told The Cairo Post, that the new law contains many problems.

“We were surprised with the law that issued 80 percent depending on the individualistic system, and only 20 percent for the list, this means that the 540 members in Parliament will only have 56 women, in other words, 7 percent of the whole Parliament,” she said. “This percentage is better than the 2011 Parliament, but it’s not good enough.”

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