National Council for Women demands women’s rights be ensured in new constitution

The National Council for Women (NCW) outlined some of the women’s rights it is demanding to be included in the new constitution during a press conference on Wednesday.

The demands include guaranteed gender equality, criminalization of gender discrimination, criminalizing the incitement of hatred or contempt of women by all political parties and religious institutions and the adoption of temporary measures of affirmative action, such as women’s quotas, to ensure equitable representation of women. They are also demanding that motherhood be recognized as a social function rather than a responsibility that lies on the woman’s shoulders alone.

Election of constituent assembly members by the People's Assembly and Shura Council members is slated to take place later this month. The 100-person assembly will then draft a new constitution.

During the press conference, NCW head Mervat al-Talawy said the attacks on the NCW by some political currents using the issues of child visitation and custody rights are not only attacks on the NCW but also on women, who are regarded as a weaker faction in society.

She noted that those attacking the NCW use a set of “clichés” which they mix with religion as if they are the only Muslims in Egyptian society. She added that the NCW would respond through statistics that prove there is no basis to their claims.

Talawy went on to say that other Arab constitutions have ensured women’s rights and that the Moroccan constitution, for instance, provides for the establishment of a body charged with ensuring representation of women in all state institutions. The Iranian constitution states that the government is responsible for securing the presence of women in all fields. Talawy demanded that the Egyptian constitution include women's rights to prevent a societal downfall following the election of a new president, such as that witnessed following the assassination former President Anwar al-Sadat.

She added that the NCW had outlined its work plan for the coming period and that it would be presented to Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri on Friday, which marks the celebration of Egyptian Women’s Day. She said the plan focuses on raising women’s standard of living, with special focus on illiteracy. Over 40 percent of Egyptian women are illiterate.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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