Egyptian MPs approved on Sunday a new 23-article law aimed at regulating the National Council of Women (NCW), bringing it in line with the 2014 constitution and international conventions signed by Egypt, according to a report prepared by parliament’s social solidarity committee.
“The law was primarily drafted to go in line with Articles 11 and 53 of the constitution, which state that men and women are equal in terms of civilian, political, economic, social and cultural rights, that citizens are equal before the law regardless of religion, gender, colour, and language, and that the state will take all measures necessary to eliminate all forms of discrimination in society,” the report said.
The National Council for Women was created in 2000 by then-president Hosni Mubarak.
“The presidential decree (no.90/2000) that created this council in 2000 will be replaced by the new law to regulate the council on an institutional basis,” said the report.
While Article 1 states that the 30-member National Council for Women will be under the purview of the president of the republic, the council itself will seek to reinforce women’s rights in line with the constitution and international conventions signed by Egypt.
Article 3 states that the membership of the council will be a renewable four-year period.
“The members should be public figures with a proven outstanding performance in the areas of social work and respect of human rights,” says Article 3, adding that “they will be named by civil society organisations, professional syndicates and the higher councils for media regulation, culture and universities.”
According to Article 6, the council will have offices in all of Egypt’s 27 governorates in order to implement the council’s national plan on promoting the rights of women, and to coordinate with all government institutions and civil society organisations in all of Egypt to achieve its main objectives.
Article 7 states that the council’s offices will "observe respect of women’s rights".
“It will review complaints related to violations of women’s rights and freedoms and refer them to concerned institutions to help solve them in an effective way. It will also help empower women in all aspects of life,” says Article 7.
The law also states that once formed, the council should move quickly to create a “documentation centre” which will be responsible for gathering all figures, statistics and research on the status of women in Egypt.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal hailed the law as a very progressive step for women in Egypt.
“We have seen that over a few years women in Egypt were able to become cabinet ministers and provincial governors,” said Abdel-Aal, “and I assure you that in the coming few years women will be also named as judges and heads of courts.”
Abdel-Aal said the parliamentary election law based on individual and list systems helped women gain an unprecedented 90 seats in parliament.
“The new local city councils law will also help women get no less than 20 percent of seats in these councils,” said Abdel-Aal, expressing high hopes that “very soon a woman will be named a prime minister of Egypt.”
Evelyn Matta, a female MP, said the National Council for Women law is a very progressive step as it is the first of its kind in the Arab world in terms of giving women sweeping rights.
“For example, no laws or agreements on women can be passed without the prior approval of the council, which will be mainly responsible for defending the rights of women in Egypt.”
Ghada Sakr, deputy head of parliament's tourism committee, said "the issuing of the new National Council for Women comes after Egyptian women were able to reach leading positions under the regime of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
"Right now, we have six women as cabinet ministers, or 20 percent of the cabinet's total members, we have 90 female MPs (15 percent), one provincial governor, and I am sure that the new law will help women reach other leading positions, particularly in the judicial sector," said Sakr.