In a Discussion Panel About the Situation of Women in the Context of the Work of the Committee on Amending the Law Regulating the Exercise of Political Rights and the Parliament Law: Parties, Political and Feminist Groups Demand the inclusion of Women, a Mixed System and Transparency

Joint Statement

7 May 2014

On Monday May 5th  2014, Nazra for Feminist Studies held a discussion panel for a number of representatives of political parties, feminist groups and organizations concerned with the political participation of Women, and a representative of the National Council for Women, to discuss the work of the Committee on amending the Law Regulating the Exercise of Political Rights and the Parliament Law, and to present to the Committee mechanisms for the adoption of an electoral system that supports the participation of Women in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The signatories to this statement express their outrage at the total absence of Women from the ranks of the Committee, and therefore stress the necessity of including Women of expertise in the area of political participation of Women as members of the Committee, and also including a member from the national mechanism for Women's Rights, i.e. the National Council for Women, while there is still time for these experts to join the Committee.

The signatories underline that the lack of transparency in the work of Committee; its failure, until the release of this statement, to invite most concerned parties to open debate to discuss the amendments of the law and to incorporate the demands of these parties prior to drafting the amendments; as well as its failure to present for discussion an official draft of the amendments.

The amendments, however, were unofficially put forward, as newspapers today carried statements by the official sopkesperson of the Committee that the Committee has settled on the form of a mixed electoral system, with 80% of seats going to individual candidates and 20% elected from closed national lists including "marginalized" groups: Women, people with special needs, workers and farmers, with a representation of at least 50% for workers and Farmers. In this electoral setup, the representation of women cannot exceed 5%, which is an inequitable and unfair share that does not fulfill the requirement of adequate representation for Women in parliament as per article 11 of the new Egyptian Constitution.

Furthermore, the statements of the spokesperson foretold an illegal requirement, as the text of the amended article stipulates that a candidate has an Egyptian father, and ignored the right of the children of an Egyptian mother to run, which is considered discrimination, deliberate disregard for the 2004 amendments to Law 154/2004 which entitled the children of an Egyptian woman to Egyptian citizenship, and thereby to the right to run for public office, and a violation of article 6 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014.     

The signatories reiterate what they have previously demanded:
1- Transparency and integrity on part of the Committee on amending the Law Regulating the Exercise of Political Rights and the Parliament Law by presenting the preliminary draft of the Law to political parties, feminist groups and all stakeholders.
2- That the electoral system be mixed at 50% for individual seats and 50% for closed proportional lists, with  equity applied to individual seats so that Women get 50% of them, and that the lists are alternating so that Women are guaranteed fair representation in the next Egypt parliament.
3- Including Women of expertise among the members of Committee on amending the Law Regulating the Exercise of Political Rights and the Parliament Law through representing the national mechanism in the Committee.

Related Statements:
- Joint Statement - The Committee on amending the Law Regulating the Exercise of Political Rights and the Parliament Law should accede to the demands of feminist organizations with regard to the electoral system - May 4th, 2014 -

- In a Discussion Panel about fair and effective representation of Women in Parliament: Parties and political and feminist groups demand a national dialogue involving all parties to determine the form of the best electoral system for the next Parliament - February 9th, 2014 -

- A Letter to the President proposing the conduct of the next parliamentary elections with alternating lists for a fair representation of Women - February 5th, 2014 -

1- The Mass Action Steering Committee for the Women of Egypt.
2- Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement.
3- Daughter of the Land Association.
4- The Permanent Committee for Egyptian Women.
5- The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
6- The Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights.
7- Al Nadim Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.
8- Appropriate Communication Tools for Development Association (ACT).
9- New Woman Foundation.
10- Women and Memory Forum.
11- The Egyptian Foundation for Family Development.
12- Baheya Foundation for Culture and Citizenship.
13- Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance.
14- Enlightened Egypt Foundation.
15- Nazra for Feminist Studies.

Political Parties:
1- The Socialist Popular Alliance Party.
2- Al-Dostour Party.
3- Bread and Freedom Party (Under Establishment).
4- The Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
5- Freedom Egypt Party.