Signs against discrimination at the National Council for Women conference on Monday 22 october ,2012 (Photo: Ahram Arabic News Web Site )
Egypt's national body for women's issues, the National Council for Women, held a conference on Monday entitled "Egyptian women reject the draft constitution."
According to the Council's head, Mervat El-Tellawy, the draft constitution has not taken into consideration various international charters and agreements which Egypt has signed. Furthermore, the Al-Azhar document of suggested principles for all parties to abide by while writing the constitution has not been incorporated into the draft.
Attending the conference was Abdallah Qandeel, head of the administrative prosecutors committee, who criticised the head of the Constituent Assembly Hossam El-Gheriany for being opposed to women holding high ranks in the judiciary, despite the fact that there are 1,158 female administrative prosecutors, who are involved in resolving disputes between individuals and the government.
Prominent writers Farida El-Shobashy and Fatheya El-Asal also criticised members of the Constituent Assembly for being discriminatory against women. El-Asal complained that the assembly only contains seven women, of whom five are Muslim Brotherhood members, a group she alleged defended female circumcision.
The attendees also chanted: "Down with the rule of the [Muslim Brotherhood] Supreme Guide!"
Several lawsuits had been filed challenging the constitutionality of the Constituent Assembly and the mechanism for choosing its members, after the High Constitutional Court declared in June that the law which regulated the election of the People's Assembly -- Egypt's lower house of parliament -- was unconstitutional, leading the then-ruling military council to dissolve the legislative body.
Cairo Administrative Court is expected to give its final verdict on the constitutionality of Egypt's constitution-drafting body on 23 October.
The assembly has been working hard to try to come up with a final draft before the court rules on its dissolution, in an attempt to avoid the dilemma of assigning a new assembly that will have to start on drafting a new charter. The March 2011 Constitutional Declaration allows one month after the assembly approves the final draft before it is put to public vote. Once the people vote for the new charter no court, according to legal experts, can rule against the decision.
According to the Constitutional Declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi in August, if, for any reason, the current panel is not able to draft the constitution he will select a new body that represents all social strata, to achieve the task. The hundred members will be directly appointed by the president and will then have to draft a new national charter in three months.
The current Constituent Assembly faces criticism from liberal and leftist observers as its dissolved predecessor, namely that it is dominated by Islamist parties and is not representative of the country's social and political diversity.