Egypt: Postpone the 15 December referendum on the draft Constitution

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Date: 
11 Dec 2012
Update Date: 
17 Dec 2012
Update: 

President Morsi ordered the referendum to go ahead despite serious concerns raised nationally and internationally about the process for, and content of, the new draft Constitution. A first round of voting took place on Saturday, 15 December and a second follows on 22 December. We will continue to strategize with our partners regarding how to ensure women's rights are properly protected.


 

 

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Partners in the revolution and democratic Egypt ©UN Women

Partners in the revolution and democratic Egypt ©UN Women

A popular referendum on the current draft of the new Egyptian Constitution has been scheduled for this Saturday, 15 December by President Morsi. As references it makes to the supremacy of Islamic law (Sharia law) can be widely interpreted, if approved, it could restrict and severely undermine women’s and girls’ rights. Equality Now and our partners are calling on the President to delay the referendum to allow for proper consultation.

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Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has also voiced her concerns about both the process of developing a new constitution and its current content. “The draft Constitution provides guarantees to some human rights,” Ms. Pillay said, “[h]owever, there are also some very worrying omissions and ambiguities.” While noting that the draft Constitution guarantees equality before the law in rights and duties with no discrimination, the High Commissioner noted that it does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender, sex, religion and origin. With Article 10 of the current draft stating a commitment to “preserve the true nature of the Egyptian family,” together with a provision regarding “balance between a woman’s obligations toward the family and public work,” observers believe a lack of explicit protection for women’s equality could be used to justify discrimination. “The haste with which the Constituent Assembly adopted the final text for Presidential action, and many of the surrounding circumstances, have put into question the credibility of the process,” stated Ms. Pillay.

Very few women were part of the Constitutional Committee which drafted the new Constitution, and the last female member resigned in protest in November. There was no transparent process for review and debate of the full draft before it was sent to President Morsi at the end of November.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to sign the petition!

Please join Equality Now and our Egyptian partners, Alliance for Arab Women and CEWLA, and call on President Morsi to postpone the referendum on the Constitution set for 15 December. Urge him to employ an inclusive and transparent process of review and development of the Constitution, and to ensure that all provisions clearly protect and promote the equal rights of all Egyptians, in both the spirit of the revolution and in conformity with Egypt’s international obligations.

Letters should go to:

President Morsi
El Etahadiya Presidential Palace
Merghiny St.
Heliopolis, Cairo
EGYPT
Fax & Tel: +202 239 019 980
 

Letters: 

Dear Mr. President,

I am deeply concerned about the current draft of the new Egyptian constitution which could restrict and severely undermine women’s and girls’ rights if approved by popular referendum on 15 December 2012. I therefore join Egyptian women and men in urging you to postpone the upcoming referendum on the Constitution. 

I am particularly concerned, as are women and human rights organizations in Egypt, about ambiguities in the text and the lack of guarantees of equality of women with men. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also voiced her concerns about both the process of developing a new constitution and its current content.
 
In support of those in Egypt who are campaigning to ensure that women’s rights are protected and promoted under the new Constitution, I urge you to ensure an inclusive and transparent process of review and development of the Constitution, and that all its provisions clearly protect and promote the equal rights of all Egyptians, both to reflect the spirit of the revolution and in conformity with Egypt’s international obligations. 

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,