Marking International Women’s Day, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi ordered the Ministry of Justice to allow Egyptian women to hold positions in the State Council and the Egyptian Public Prosecution.
The President’s direction has been praised by civil society in Egypt, who for many years have been campaigning for women to be provided with more opportunities in the judiciary. To date, no woman has ever been appointed to the State Council, which has faced increased scrutiny for its exclusion of women.
In a statement released by the Egyptian Ministry of Justice, the Ministry announced that President Sisi had directed it to coordinate with the heads of the Supreme Judicial Council and the State Council to recruit women in the State Council and the Public Prosecution.
The statement added that the President’s orders were in furtherance of the constitutionally-enshrined rights of equality, adding that it reflected the important roles and contributions women play in Egyptian society.
The Ministry of Justice added that it had already commenced the implementation of President Sisi’s directive and that it is working with judicial authorities to implement the changes swiftly.
President of the National Council for Women, Dr. Maya Morsy, expressed her appreciation for the President’s initiative, adding that it represents significant “political will” to ensure equality for women.
As of today, the number of female judges in Egypt has not exceeded 66 judges, compared to more than 16,000 judges overall, meaning that women make up only 0.5 percent of the total number of Egyptian judges.
The State Council, a judicial authority that examines administrative disputes and disciplinary cases involving public authorities, has not previously allowed women to take up positions as judges. A number of legal suits have been filed by Egyptian women in Egyptian courts against the State Council as a result of its discriminatory practices.
However, the State Council had previously dismissed the appeals, adding that there is no obligation for it to appoint women to the State Council.
The Egyptian President’s directives, if implemented, may force the State Council to reconsider its position.
Research shows that a higher presence of women in the judiciary improves the quality of judicial decision-making for both general cases and cases specifically affecting women, such as family and sexual violence related cases.