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Women’s groups troubled by draft elections law

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Women’s groups were hopeful that the elections law would guarantee greater representation for women

The National Front for Egypt’s Women announced its rejection of the draft elections law on Sunday, which does not guarantee any representation for women.

After being amended by the Shura Council, the draft elections law was sent to the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday to determine its constitutionality.

The draft elections law initially stated that women should be included in the top half of electoral lists, but this condition was removed by the legislative committee of the Shura Council. The women’s front had also wanted a 30 per cent female quota in lists, to guarantee that multiple women be included in the lists. The draft law does not include this condition. It states that lists must include one woman but does not specify in which position.

Women have frequently been placed at the bottom of electoral lists in previous elections, giving them very little chance of getting a seat in parliament.

The front believes the law excludes women from political life. “This law is a continuation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s and Salafi’s constitution…” the women’s group said.

The National Council for Women’s Rights is also displeased with the law. Abeer Abo Al-Ela, a media representative of the council, mentioned that the draft elections law initially stipulated that women would be included in the first third of electoral lists.

“When the draft law said women would be in the first half, we said…it’s a step in the right direction,” Abo Al-Ela said.

“Then we were surprised to learn that the condition was removed…. they are trying to set women back…. we have a long and hard battle ahead,” she added.

Last week, the National Front for Egypt’s Women organized a symbolic protest outside the Shura Council. The women’s front vowed to continue its peaceful struggle and to reject any form of discrimination against women.

The front includes 18 political parties and groups including Al-Dostour Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Social Popular Alliance Party.

The National Council for Women’s Rights is also trying to overcome the elections law. “We have prepared a list of women who may run for parliament across the country, to offer them support,” Abo Al-Ela said. She added that while the council does not offer direct financial support, it provides other resources to help women reach parliament.


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