Egypt

The importance of integrating human rights issues into international policy-making (TrustLaw)

11/12/2012 -- TrustLaw -- "The Word on Women - Why it is important to integrate human rights into international policy-making"  Advocacy Director, FGM Program Efua Dorkenoo on integrating human rights issues - particularly those which affect women and girls such as FGM - into policies relating to international trade and financial aid.

Egypt: Stop the lowering of the minimum age of marriage for girls in Egypt

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 May 8
Update Date: 
2012 Oct 10
Update: 

UPDATE: Due to the political situation in Egypt, the Egyptian Parliament is currently dissolved. Equality Now and our partners on the ground are monitoring the situation.


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What You Can Do: 

Please urge the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the Speaker of the People’s Assembly Council, and the President of the Shura Council to stop the proposed changes to the age of marriage law and the custody on divorce law. Remind the authorities that they have legal obligations both under the Egyptian Constitution to uphold gender equality and under human rights instruments, including the CRC and CEDAW, to reject any amendments that would undermine the rights of girls and women. >> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

  • Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, 11 Al’ourubah Street, Cairo, Egypt / Fax: +202-241-83761, E-mail: amd@mmc.gov.eg (note: some emails have not been going through to this address; online signatures will be collected and faxed.)
  • Dr. Mohamed Said El Katatni, Speaker of the People’s Assembly Council, Majles El Shab St.1, Cairo, Egypt / Fax 002-227921040
  • Mr. Ahmad Fahmy, President of the Shura Council, Kasr Al Aini Street- Cairo, Egypt / Fax: 002-227941980
Letters: 

Dear Field Marshal/Speaker/President:

I am writing to express my support for the men and women in Egypt who are advocating for the maintenance of gender equality in Egypt as guaranteed under the Constitution. I therefore respectfully request that you do all you can to stop the proposed changes to the age of marriage law and the custody on divorce law.

I understand that Egypt’s People’s Assembly Council is currently discussing legislation that would reduce the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to possibly as low as 9 years old and could vote on the final draft bill at any moment. If adopted, girls could be married off by their families without their consent putting them at risk of physical and psychological harm, as well as cutting short other life opportunities, such as pursuing their education. I also understand that draft legislation has also been introduced limiting a mother’s custody of her children upon divorce. I support the women and men in Egypt who recently sent a statement to the Parliament highlighting the inconsistency of these proposed legislative changes with the principles of the revolution, which include dignity, justice and freedom.

The guarantee of gender equality under Egypt’s Constitution is also consistent with the government of Egypt’s legal obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as other instruments. Please do not make any amendment to the minimum age of marriage law or the custody on divorce law which would breach the equality provisions in the Egyptian Constitution and under international law.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
 

Azza Suleiman

Advocating for Equal Rights for Egypt’s Women
Azza Suleiman

1. How did you start working in women’s rights in Egypt; what motivated you to start your organization?

Women's Rights Slipping Away in the Aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23 July 2011
Contact: NAIROBI: Mary Ciugu, (254) 20 271-9832/913, equalitynownairobi@equalitynow.org
NEW YORK: Karen Asare, (01) 212-586-0906
LONDON: Jacqui Hunt, (44) (0) 20-7839-5456

Egypt: Ensure women’s rights are integrated in post-revolution Egypt

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2011 Jul 10
Update Date: 
2013 Mar 14
Update: 

UPDATE 14 MARCH 2013: The Egyptian Constitution was approved by referendum in December 2012 despite a turnout of less than 33%, a yes vote of less than 64% of the turnout, and continuing concerns at the lack of transparency and inclusivity in the drafting process. Parliament is still dissolved and proposed elections were recently suspended by the court.

Equality Now is strategizing with its Egyptian partners on the best way to push for women’s rights, including with regard to the repeal or amendment of laws that discriminate against women and ensuring the meaningful integration of women in all political processes. Of immediate serious concern are the recent attacks on women in Tahrir Square including their subjection to sexual harassment and gang rape. We will have further information shortly on how you can support the work on the ground to address this.


UPDATE 7 March 2012: Despite the promise of the early political changes in Egypt, which inspired the belief that a newly democratic country would include women as full social and political partners, Egyptian women rather fear further deterioration of their rights. Marching in Cairo on International Women’s Day, 8 March, they are calling again for implementation of the Egyptian Women’s Charter, drawn up last year by more than 3,000 women and endorsed by half a million Egyptian citizens, both men and women. Equality Now supports the continuing efforts of Egypt’s women to hold Egyptian authorities accountable for the promotion and protection of their human rights. Since June 2011, women have lost seats in Parliament and presently there are only three women in the Cabinet. TAKE ACTION NOW! Please join us in urging the Egyptian authorities to realize the following demands being made by Egyptian women at the march:

  1. Achieve equality among all citizens, women and men, in the provisions of the constitution and all laws, and create mechanisms that will ensure their proper implementation and recourse for any violations.
  2. Ensure gender equality and fair representation of qualified and experienced women in the committee that will write the new constitution. 
  3. Take appropriate measures to ensure fair political participation of women at all levels of decision-making: in political parties, trade unions and state institutions.
  4. Preserve the social and economic rights achieved by women in their previous struggles and ensure their ability to attain them.
  5. Comply with all international treaties that protect the rights of women, children and human beings in general, and work on lifting reservations to the CEDAW convention.
  6. Establish full citizenship rights and the rule of law that will lead to the revocation of all forms of discrimination based on sex, age, marital status, class, ideological affiliation, etc.

Partners in the revolution and democratic Egypt ©UN Women

Partners in the revolution and democratic Egypt ©UN Women

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Egyptian authorities urging them to take steps to meet the demands laid out in the Women’s Charter.  Call upon them to ensure that 30% of electoral lists are comprised of women so that women have the opportunity to participate in the political life of the country.  The new government should, among other things, ensure that women are represented on the constitutional committee; that at least 40% of ministerial posts go to women; that discriminatory legislation is reviewed and revised; that women have equal access to the same employment and business opportunities as men; and that a strong women’s machinery is established.  Remind the authorities that they should live up to Egypt’s obligations under CEDAW, the ICCPR and the ICESCR.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

  • Prime Minister Mr. Hesham Qandil, Magless El Shaàb Street, Al Kasr El Einy, Cairo, EGYPT / Phone: +202-2793-5000, Fax: +202-2795-8048, Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg

With a copy to:

  • Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, 11 Al’ourubah Street, Cairo, EGYPT / Fax: +202-241-83761,  E-mail: amd@mmc.gov.eg (note: some emails have not been going through to this address; online signatures will be collected and faxed.)

Letters: 

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to express support for the continuing demand of Egyptian women to be fully integrated in all post-revolution institutions and policy frameworks as laid out in the Egyptian Women’s Charter that has been signed by more than 500,000 people and submitted to you by Michele Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women.  

Egyptian women worked side-by-side with men in the revolution and deserve to be recognized as full and equal citizens post-revolution. This would be in line with the Egyptian constitution and Egypt’s international obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The Women’s Charter lays out concrete steps towards gender equality that will be reiterated on International Women's Day 2012. I urge you to ensure that: 

  • Women are represented in the committee that will be entrusted with drafting the new constitution, in all legislative committees, and in all dialogue forums that discuss national issues;
  • Women occupy at least 40% of the ministerial positions and 30% of parliamentary electoral lists are comprised of women;
  • The new constitution clearly spells out full equality between men and women in all spheres of life;
  • Women are provided equal opportunities in accessing the labor markets, credit, capital and skills training and protection from any kind of sexual harassment in the workplace;
  • All discriminatory legislation against women is reviewed and revised and in particular Family Law is reformed to reflect human dignity and justice for all members of the family;
  • Women graduates of law schools are provided equal opportunities to acquire judiciary posts;
  • A strong national women’s machinery is established along with gender focal points in all ministries and governorates; a gender equality committee is established inside the parliament; and an Ombudsperson for gender equality is appointed to ensure gender mainstreaming in all policies, plans and programs of the government; and 
  • A national policy is formulated to reflect a positive image of women and to help create a culture with no discrimination against women.

Such steps will ensure that Egyptian women and men have a brighter future based on self-determination, mutual respect and dignity.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

cc: Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
Fax: +202 241 83761

Egypt: Highest Court Upholds Minister's Ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
1998 Feb 1

On 28 December 1997, the highest Egyptian administrative court overturned a lower court ruling which had struck down a government directive banning the practice by health workers of female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision (FC). The ban was instituted in July 1996 by Health Minister Ismail Sallam and subsequently challenged in court by a group of plaintiffs including several doctors and Islamist leaders who advocate the practice of FGM.

What You Can Do: 

No further action is necessary, but you may wish to send a letter of congratulations to the Minister of Health on the court decision upholding his ban on FGM. Thank him for his efforts to stop the practice of FGM in Egypt and urge him to continue his collaboration with the FGM Task Force, to ensure enforcement of the ban and promotion of public awareness of the harmful effects of FGM. Letters should be addressed to:

His Excellency Dr. Ismail Sallam
Minister of Health
Magles El Shaab Street
Cairo, Egypt

Egypt: Court Asserts Doctors' Right to Perform Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
1997 Jul 1

On 24 June 1997, an Egyptian court overturned a government directive banning the practice by health workers of female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision. The ban was instituted in July 1996 by Health Minister Ismail Sallam.

What You Can Do: 

Contact doctors and medical associations in your community and inform them of the recent court decision in Egypt asserting a doctor's right to perform FGM. Ask them to adopt and send organizational resolutions and to write letters to the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, the professional association in Egypt which licenses doctors to practice medicine. Call on the Egyptian Medical Syndicate to clarify publicly and to all doctors in Egypt that professional ethics prohibit the performance of FGM as a dangerous practice which serves no medical purpose and causes great harm. Cite the World Health Organization's opposition to FGM as well as the Hippocratic Oath which requires that doctors do no harm. Please also write to the Minister of Health and express support for his timely action to appeal the court decision and to ensure that FGM is not performed in hospitals pending the appeal. Letters should be addressed to:

Professor Hamdey El-Sayed, President
Egyptian Medical Syndicate (Dar Al Hekma)
Kaser Al Eini Street
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: 202-356-2751/ Tel: 202-354-0738

His Excellency Dr. Ismail Sallam
Minister of Health
Magles El Shaab Street
Cairo, Egypt

Egypt: Government Revokes Directive that Medicalized Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
1995 Dec 1

On 17 October 1995, the Egyptian Minister of Health revoked the directive he had issued in October 1994 which medicalized female genital mutilation (FGM). The 1994 directive had permitted hospitals in Egypt to perform the operation for a fee of LE10 (approximately US $3). In revoking the directive, the Minister of Health, Ali Abdel Fattah, made reference to the physical and psychological harm caused by FGM.

What You Can Do: 

Write to the Minister of Health welcoming his revocation of the October 1994 decree which had medicalized female genital mutilation. Express concern over the harmful physical and psychological consequences of FGM in Egypt and urge him to honor the pledge he made at the UN ICPD conference to ban female genital mutilation and to take legal action against those who perform it. Thank him for responding to previous letters, and encourage him to continue the dialogue on this important issue and to support non-governmental organizations in Egypt working for the eradication of FGM. Letters should be addressed to:

His Excellency Dr. Ali Abdel Fattah
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
Magles El Shaab Street
Cairo, Egypt

Egypt: Government Efforts to Medicalize Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1995 Mar 1

On 29 October 1994, the Egyptian Minister of Health issued a decree which seeks to medicalize female genital mutilation (FGM) by designating a number of selected hospitals to perform the operation for a fee of LE10 (approximately US $3). The decree represents a turnaround on the part of the Health Minister, Ali Abdel Fatah, who publicly stated at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in September 1994, that the practice of FGM should be banned and that those who perform it should be punished.

What You Can Do: 

Support the efforts of women's organizations in Egypt to spread awareness and to work towards the complete eradication of female genital mutilation. Send letters and petitions appealing for the revocation of the Ministerial decree of 29 October 1994, which condones and medicalizes female genital mutilation in Egypt. Express concern over the harmful physical and psychological consequences of female genital mutilation on young girls in Egypt and note the statement made by the Grand Mufti of Egypt that one should defer to the opinion of doctors. Urge government authorities to honor the pledge made by the Minister of Health at the International Conference on Population and Development to ban female genital mutilation and to take legal action against those who perform it. Appeals should be addressed to the Egyptian Ambassador to your country, and to:

His Excellency Muhammed Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace
Cairo, Egypt
Telegrams: President Mubarak, Cairo, Egypt
Telexes: 93794 WAZRA UN

His Excellency Dr. Ali Abdel Fatah
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
Magles El Shaab Street
Cairo, Egypt

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