Thursday, February 17, 2011

After The Egyptian Revolution: Where Are The Women?

I wrote an earlier post about the way revolutions tend to leave women behind after a while, and I am concerned that this is happening in Egypt. Women did participate in the protests, often at a high level of risk. But now:
The lack of women on a committee charged with amending Egypt's constitution for elections post-Mubarak casts doubt over whether the country can develop into a true democracy, a group of activists said on Wednesday.
The group of over 60 non-governmental organisation and activists said the committee, which is presided over by a respected retired judge known for his independence, had begun work on Wednesday by "marginalising female legal experts."


The committee includes one senior Muslim Brotherhood legal expert in an unprecedented move to include the Islamist opposition group, but the panel did not give details on how it selected its members.
"Signatures to this statement have received with great concern the list of committee members as there is no participation from female experts, which is unacceptable marginalisation of half of society," the statement said.
"We also question the standards used to select the members of the committee," the group said, although adding they supported the military's efforts in moving to a democracy.
The role of women in Egyptian politics has been limited, with few occupying ministerial and parliamentary seats. Their role in the judiciary has been the subject of wide debate in recent years.
Last year, a top court ruled that women should be allowed to serve on the State Council, a court that tries cases involving the government and which had resisted including female judges.
Mubarak appointed Tahany el-Gibali, Egypt's first woman judge, to the Constitutional Court in 2003. Conservative judges campaigned to stop what they regarded as an exception from becoming a trend.
So the Muslim Brotherhood is included, even if as a token member, but women are not.

I don't expect miracles. A country which debates whether women can serve as judges has a long way to go. But still.