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Dozens of MPs, rights groups outraged at absence of female judicial representation

A wave of solidarity has swept through 122 parties, rights organizations and public figures as they announced on Tuesday their support for the appointment of lawyer Umniah Gadallah as a State Council Judge. Gadallah had been fighting a lawsuit against the State Council since 2015, after the council refused to appoint her on the sole ground of being a woman.

A joint statement was issued in the name of the 122 organizations and parties on Tuesday as part of a conference held specifically to discuss the problem of inequality in the justice system for women.

The issue flamed up after parliamentary discussions took place on Tuesday on women’s rights to access the judicial system, as female MPs demanded laws and policies that respect and empower women’s rights to access all state positions. Not only that, but they also demanded a revision of the whole procedure of hiring women in different positions. Finally, they requested the questioning of the Minister of Justice and State Council.

Umniah Gadallah expressed that despite fulfilling all the requirements: such as having a post-grad degree, there is a reluctance towards all women from the State Council.

Azza Solaiman, President of Board of Trustees in the Women’s Center, stressed that Egyptian women continue to face discrimination despite the fact that 2017 is supposedly “Woman’s year”. She added that there is no legal or constitutional explanation for the inequality, criticizing the judicial bodies for not allowing for gender equality in appointments within judicial bodies.

The statement started out by describing the lawsuit as a new step in the struggle for women for their rights. The statement also stated the judicial bodies in Egypt as “unfair” bodies, that fight fervently to deny women their rights, despite article 53 of the constitution clearly granting equality for men and women in the workforce:
“All citizens are equal before the law, and they are equal in their rights, freedoms and duties.”

The statement proceeded to cite articles nine and 11 of the constitutions to further enhance its message. Article nine stated the concept of equal opportunities, as for article 11, it stated that: “It is the state’s responsibility to oblige to women’s rights in occupying public positions and senior supervising positions in the state, as well as judiciary positions, without facing any discrimination.”

The statement then went on to state some of the peculiarities of the Egyptian systems saying that, “Egyptian women have been pioneers over Arab countries and some European countries in taking part of political life. In contrast, Egypt remains incredibly behind in judiciary.

“We have a staggering number of 66 female judges out of a total of 16 thousand judges. Women have been and continue to struggle for leadership positions since the case of Aisha Rateb in 1949 till the brightest graduates of today. And still the state has the same lame excuses for not appointing women in the State Council,” the statement reads.

The parties also referenced previous attempts to try and support women into attaining the judge’s position, as well as countless struggles for graduates who attained all the requirements to join public prosecution or the State Council but still did not make the cut.

Hence, the statement expressed support for fresh graduates who attain the level to join state council.

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