CAIRO: Egypt s State Council will employ female law graduates within its ranks for the first time, daily newspaper Al-Shorouk reported Sunday.
Applications will be accepted this September from female lawyers aged under 27 years, who graduated in 2008 or 2009.
The State Council, created in 1946, hears cases brought by individuals against the state.
There exists nothing in the Egyptian Constitution or under Islamic law that prevents a woman from occupying an administrative judicial post, and that women are employed in high ranking judicial positions in Gulf States, State Council head Mohamed El-Homeiny was quoted by Al-Shorouk as saying
El-Homeiny added that the decision was taken on the basis of intense discussions within the State Council and that the decision was not imposed by an external political authority.
The decision to accept female law graduates came when there is still opposition to the idea of female judges from some members of the State Council. While there exists no law explicitly banning the appointment of female judges, a 1953 ruling on the subject held that “traditions and customs may render the appointment of women judges “inappropriate even if there exists no general rule stating as much.
A second ruling, issued in 1973 made reference to article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution which provides that Islamic Sharia is the principal source of legislation. It stated that while there exists no law explicitly prohibiting women occupying judicial posts in the State Council, there is equally no provision laying down women’s equal right to occupy such posts.
Jurist Gaber Gad Nassar said during a seminar on the State Council held in March 2009 that this ruling effectively “closed the door to female appointments to the administrative judiciary, by leaving the decision to the discretion of the administrative body responsible for appointments.
Nasser Amin, director of Egyptian NGO the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP), which has launched campaigns lobbying for the appointment of female judges, described the decision as an “extremely significant step from a social and Islamic perspective.
“Women previously were not valued highly in society, and men found the idea of a woman judging them extremely difficult. It’s relatively different now.
“While this is a good step forward, it s still early until we reach the point when there’s no discrimination, and provide the same work opportunities to men and women. -Additional reporting by Amina Ismail.