A response to the letter of the Prime Minister regarding demands to include women in the High Commission for Legislative Reform,
Nazra for Feminist Studies received a letter from the office of the Prime Minister regarding a statement demanding the representation of women in the High Commission for Legislative Reform signed by feminist groups and organizations, as well as women’s committees in political parties. The letter stated that this demand is rejected explaining that with the claim that the National Council for Women is entitled to review legislations and laws related to women, and to contribute to the national dialogue which paves the way for proposing laws and legislations especially those related to women’s issues. However, this does not compel the Committee to include some women legal experts or women who are active and concerned with women’s issues even in the subsidiary committees of the Commission.
First: The response disregards article 11 of the Egyptian Constitution, amended and approved on the 18th of January 2014, which stipulates that "the State shall take the necessary measures to ensure the appropriate representation of women in representative bodies, as specified by Law. The state shall also guarantee women’s right to hold public and senior management offices in the State and their appointment in judicial bodies and authorities without discrimination." This constitutional provision has to be translated into actual practice including clear actions and measures taken in order to let women hold different posts in state institutions. The High Commission for Legislative Reform is one of the bodies formed according to a Presidential Decision to undertake the amendment of legislations and laws. Thus, we believe it is necessary for this body to include women in its structure so that they take part in the process of legislative reform which necessarily affects the lives of Egyptian women and as an implementation of the afore-mentioned constitutional provision, especially that there is nothing to prevent the inclusion of women legal experts who are concerned with women issues and representatives of the National Machinery for Women (the National Council for Women) in the membership of this Commission and its subsidiary committees.
Second: Existing Egyptian legislations include various forms of discrimination in many laws. The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in its Concluding Observations on the report of the Egyptian Government in February 2010, presented a recommendation (no. 16) concerning the necessity of reviewing legislations in partnership with concerned parties including civil society organizations and especially non-governmental feminist organizations.
The undersigned see a huge contradiction between the role assigned to the Committee, which is reforming existing legislations in order to conform to the provisions of the New Constitution, and insistence on ignoring constitutional obligations to fight discrimination against women especially when it comes to their representation and participation in decision making positions. This also means disregarding Egypt's relevant international obligations, and insisting on cooperation with the National Council for Women when it comes to legislations related to women without officially joining the Commission, in spite of the constitutional obligation on the state pursuant to article 93 which stipulates that "the state shall be bound by international human rights agreements, covenants and conventions ratified by Egypt, and which shall have the force of law after publication in accordance with prescribed conditions."
Thus, the undersigned organizations and parties raise the same old demands to correct the mistake done and to include women legal experts in the Commission of Legislative Reform, in addition to women experts in different women’s issues in subsidiary committees, each according to her specialization, so that it is guaranteed that women's issues are integrated into the reform of existing laws and legislations and women are represented in decision making positions in different state institutions including legislative, executive and all elected bodies.
1. Nazra For Feminist Studies.
2. The Egyptian Feminist Union.
3. Women’s Committee – the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
4. Oumi [My Mother] Association for Rights and Development.
5. Bent El-Ard [Daughter of Land] Association.
6. Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights.
7. Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture.
8. Center for Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development.
9. The Forum for Women in Development.
10. The Organization for Legal assistance of Family and Human Rights.
11. New Woman Foundation.
12. Women and Memory Forum.
13. Egyptian Foundation for Family Development.
14. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance.
15. Masr El-Metnewara [Enlightened Egypt] Foundation.