El-Sisi’s Push for Appointing Women at State Council is Revolutionary

On the International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Justice released a press statement noting that President El-Sisi had directed the Minister of Justice to cooperate with the President of the Supreme Judicial Council and the President of the State Council to use women judges in the Public Prosecution Authority and the State Council. The Ministry of Justice is currently studying the logistical details that should enable the concerned bureaus to activate this decision, as soon as possible. Despite the fact that women in Egypt were granted the constitutional right to act as sitting judges, since 2007, this new push by President El-Sisi is considered revolutionary.

Over the past decade, women judges had been limited to jobs at certain court districts and certain legal cases, which were mostly linked to the Personal Status Law and the Family Court. After President El-Sisi came in power, with an agenda that supports the role of women in public life, women judges started to see improvement. Today, there are 66 women judges in the common court system, 1980 women judges in the Administrative Prosecution Authority, and more than 670 women judges in the State Lawsuits Authority. Also, there are a few women judges, who previously acted as Commissioners at the Supreme Constitutional Court. However, all the judicial jobs at the most critical bureau of the State Council have always been restricted to men.

For long years, the National Council for Women, in cooperation with the Parliament, have been pressuring to get women judges their constitutional right to compete for job opportunities at the Administrative Prosecution Authority and State Council. Unfortunately, the State Council has always been denying women judges’ appeals to be appointed, without presenting a valid reason, and sometimes without representing a reason at all. This was labeled by many women’s rights activists as an act of discrimination and injustice. In 2018, the former Speaker of the Parliament stated, on his bench, that “the only thing in which Egypt lagged behind with regard to women’s rights, is declining women judges the right to be appointed at the State Council.”

The Egyptian constitution, and related laws and regulations, guarantee women the right to seek and compete for public jobs, including positions in the judiciary. Article 11 of the current constitution stipulates: “Women are guaranteed the right to assume public and higher administrative positions in the state, and to be appointed at judicial authorities and bureaus, without discrimination.” Article 9 of the constitution states: “The state is committed to providing equal opportunities for all citizens, without discrimination.” Also, Article 14 of the constitution stipulates: “Seeking public jobs is a right guaranteed to all citizens on the basis of competence, without favoritism or intermediation.”

Thanks to President El-Sisi’s directions to the Ministry of Justice, on March 8th, women judges will, finally, be able to compete for job opportunities at the State Council. This important push by president El-Sisi is only one move in the long list of the positive decisions he has been making to empower women, since he took office in 2014. Currently, women are occupying 25 per cent of seats in the Egyptian Parliament, and are leading 8 ministries under the current government; which is unprecedented. Add to this the extraordinary participation of women in business sectors, mostly as young and inspiring entrepreneurs, and also in sports. No wonder, women are the majority of President El-Sisi’s supporters.

Also, read on Sada Elbalad