The New York Times: Women in Egypt are struggling to get judicial positions

The New York Times published report He says that 98 Egyptian women were convicted of swearing an oath to work at Egypt’s highest administrative court last week, breaking a barrier for women to fill jobs that were previously reserved for men.

The report, written by the journalist Mona Al-Najjar from Cairo, stated that the celebration of this moment lasted an hour on national television. But for many Egyptian women seeking a position as a judge, it was the exception that proved the rule.

The report added that the appointment of these women was made at the request of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and they were chosen from among a group of administrative prosecutors and lawyers who were already employed by the state.

Given the irregular course that appointed them to the court, doubts emerged that these appointments would do much to undermine the long-standing institutional discrimination against women in Egypt and create any meaningful change.

The report quoted Omnia Gadallah, 30, who graduated with distinction in 2013 from one of the oldest Egyptian universities, saying that a handful of women are appointed every few years, but most other women, especially recent law graduates, usually receive another message, “No.” girls”.

Jadallah added that she received the same message when she tried to obtain a position as a judge in the State Council. Since then, she has sued the state and started a Facebook page to raise awareness about the fact that women in the Arab world’s largest country are still largely underrepresented in the judicial system.

Hundreds of women earn law degrees in Egypt each year, but only about 150 women have been recruited so far across the country.

Women’s rights veterans say it’s important not to underestimate the gains women have just made in the State Council.

“It’s a breakthrough,” said Mona Zulficar, a prominent Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist who was one of five women on a nearly 50-member panel to help draft a set of constitutional amendments passed in 2014. One of these new articles codifies equality between women and men in civil and political life, while emphasizing the right of women to be appointed to judicial bodies.

Hundreds of women earn law degrees every year but only about 150 women are appointed as judges (Pixabe)

“They have been resisting for years, and finally gave in because they could not violate the constitution that they are supposed to defend and protect,” Zulfikar said.

Mrs. Jadallah’s legal battle is still ongoing, despite the rejection of a number of her cases, and with each new setback she presents new cases, based on the “discretionary powers” of the court.

Jadallah described that battle as part of the challenge that she is suing the State Council, the judicial body that deals with all decisions in which the government is a party.

Jadallah was not affected by the government’s decision to appoint nearly 100 women to the court. “It’s just propaganda,” she said. “Every young woman who graduates, no matter how qualified she is, will not be accepted.”

When the women were sworn in on Tuesday, the occasion was accompanied by major announcements. Judge Mohamed Hossam El-Din, head of the State Council, declared, “Today is a national event. Our duty as the State Council is to preserve their rights as women in the constitution and the law.”

Critics say that, until recently, the continued exclusion of women from the courts meant that they were rarely involved in decisions related to their daily lives, including those related to marriage, divorce and inheritance, as well as crimes of harassment, domestic violence and sexual violence.

Judge Hossam El-Din was the chief justice mentioned in court decisions that rejected Gadallah’s efforts to allow women to be appointed under the same set of rules that allowed men to serve in Egyptian courts.

And Jadallah is not the only woman filing a lawsuit, as did Nour El-Gohary, who graduated in law last year and was rejected from applying for the vacant positions that opened this year.

On one occasion, El-Gohary said, she passed the courtroom and saw many men her age standing around waiting for an interview. “It was hard to see how they were the ones who had the opportunity,” she said.

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