Egypt - New Constitution Should Guarantee Women's Rights



Via WPP- Women Peacemakers Program


Guaranteeing Women’s Rights In The New Egyptian Constitution


Urgent because the Armed Forces Command say the draft will be completed by the end of this month, February 2011


A woman shouts as she blocks the entry of army tanks to Tahrir Square on January 30, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The Supreme Council of Egypt's armed forces has suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament, and formed a committee to draft a new Constitution for the country.  Amendments will be submitted to a popular referendum.


Specific guarantees covering the political representation of women need to be written into Egypt’s new Constitution to ensure a significant women’s Parliamentary presence.  It would be extremely helpful if the information below can be forwarded to Egypt’s Democracy activists and journalists and among the International community concerned with the region’s well-being.


In Iraq, after the fall of the Saddam regime, Iraqi women activists and international Gender/post-conflict expert Lesley Abdela worked successfully to get a guaranteed 25% minimum quota for women parliamentarians written into the new Constitution.  If it had not become a Constitutional requirement, it is estimated only one Iraqi woman – from the Kurdish regions – would have entered Parliament, rather than nearly 30%.  For Lesley Abdela’s recent feature Egypt: the transition to democracy needs women’ see


Also visit UNIFEM Study: Engendering Constitutions: Gender Equality Provisions in Selected Constitutions. A Comparative Study accompanied with Case Studies’


The Rights of Women in recent Constitutions



The Preamble


We, the people of Iraq, who have just risen from our stumble, and who are looking with confidence to the future through a republican, federal, democratic, pluralistic system, have resolved with the determination of our men, women, elderly, and youth to respect the rule of law, to establish justice and equality, to cast aside the politics of aggression, to pay attention to women and their rights, the elderly and their concerns, and children and their affairs, to spread the culture of diversity, and to defuse terrorism.


Section Two

Rights and Liberties

Chapter One


First: Civil and Political Rights

Article 14:

Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity,

nationality, origin, colour, religion, sect, belief or opinion, or economic or social status.


Section Three

Federal Powers

Chapter one

The Council of Representatives

Article 49:

First: The Council of Representatives shall consist of a number of members, at a ratio of one seat per 100,000 Iraqi persons representing the entire Iraqi people. They shall be elected through a direct secret general ballot. The representation of all components of the people shall be upheld in it.

Fourth: The elections law shall aim to achieve a percentage of representation for women of not less than one-quarter of the members of the Council of Representatives.



‘The State of Rwanda commits itself that women are granted at least 30 percent of posts in decision making organs’ (Constitution, Article 9 [4]).

Article 9 of the Rwanda Constitution expresses, as a fundamental principle, the need for equality of all Rwandans and particularly between women and men, in a pluralistic democratic government.


International IDEA Case Study: Rwanda: Women Hold Up Half the Parliament - Elizabeth Powley


A Summary:

The preamble to the Rwanda Constitution cites international human rights instruments and conventions to which Rwanda is a signatory, including specific reference to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It also states a commitment to ‘ensuring equal rights between Rwandans and between women and men without prejudice to the principles of gender equality and complementarity in national development’.


At the first post-genocide parliamentary elections of October 2003 women achieved nearly 50% representation. Before its civil war in the early 1990s and the genocide in 1994, Rwandan women never held more than 18% of seats in the country’s Parliament. The dramatic gains for women resulted from specific mechanisms to increase women’s political participation, among them a constitutional guarantee, a quota system, and innovative electoral structures. Having achieved near-parity in the representation of men and women its legislature, this African country now ranks first among all countries of the world in terms of the number of women elected to parliament.


Nepali Interim Constitution.  Constituent Assembly

(4) The principle of inclusiveness shall be taken into consideration while selecting the candidates by the political parties
pursuant to sub-clause (a) of clause (3) above, and while making the list of the candidates pursuant to sub-clause (b) above, the political parties shall have to ensure proportional representation of women, Dalit, oppressed tribes/indigenous tribes, backwards, Madhesi and other groups, in accordance as provided for in the law.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this clause, in case of women there should be at least one third of total representation obtained by adding the number of candidature pursuant to sub-clause (a) of clause (3) to the proportional representation pursuant to sub-clause (b) of clause (3).





CHAPTER 2  BILL OF RIGHTS  7. Rights.- ( 1) This Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.


9. Equality.- l) Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.




The Inter-Parliamentary Union

Also see Review of Inter-Parliamentary Union‘s Gender programme ‘Gender Equality in Politics’: