The National Council for Women (NCW) denounced on Thursday the House of Representatives elections bill currently being drafted by the Shura Council.
The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the upper house of parliament voted down on Tuesday the legislation requiring political parties to display female candidates at the top of party lists.
In a statement released on Thursday, the NCW said the removal of requiring female candidates being placed at the top of party lists would rob women of proportional representation in the parliament. Statistics suggest that around 23 million women are eligible voters.
The government-sponsored bill initially required parties to field at least one female candidate in the top half of their lists. Secular party representatives on the committee suggested narrowing it down to the top third but the Salafi Al-Nour Party members argued against the suggestion.
Instead, committee members voted to cancel the provision altogether. The amended bill now only requires parties to run at least one female candidate on their lists without specifying their placement on party lists.
NCW head Mervat Al-Tellawi stated that reversing women’s placement coupled with widening the electoral districts would have its toll on the percentage of women participating in the coming House of Representatives. “Egyptian women are the least represented in parliament when compared to other Arab countries,” Al-Tellawi said, condemning the small number of female members of the latest parliament.
Al-Tellawi added that the proposed bill goes against the fair representation of inhabitants and governorates in parliament. She stated that women form 48.9% of the population and 41% of those eligible to vote.
“Therefore, women should be given the opportunity to be fairly represented in parliament,” Al-Tellawi said. Otherwise, she added, the bill would violate the constitution.
The political participation bill and the House of Representatives elections bill together make up the required legislation governing the upcoming elections for the lower house of parliament.
After the Shura Council passes them, the bills will be sent to the Supreme Constitutional Court to ensure their constitutionality. If the laws are found constitutional, Morsi will then call for elections, which are expected to be held next October.