Women wary of new Egypt constitution

Women wary of new Egypt constitution
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There are concerns in Egypt that the country’s post-revolution constitution will fail to fully represent women.

In the weeks leading up to the downfall of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak, women played their role in the push for democracy and were a visible presence in the crowds at Tahrir Square. It’s estimated that women made up between 20 percent and 50 percent of protesters. A lack of any sort of meaningful political representation under Mubarak gave them as much as, if not more reason to demand change than their male counterparts.

Yet many Egyptian women fear that despite their part in deposing Mubarak, they will be denied their just rewards in the post-Mubarak Egypt.

When the military took full control of the country last month, it appointed Tarek al-Bishry to form a committee that would change the constitution to make it comply with what the protesters had been risking their lives to demand. That committee has eight members, most of them politicians and judges, all of them men.

It is perhaps then not a great surprise that women’s groups are wary that the all-male committee may deprive them of their full rights in the new democratic process.

The Egyptian Coalition for Civic Education and Women’s Participation has reviewed the proposed amendments to the constitution and identified points of concern. For example, Article 75 guarantees that “Egypt’s president is born to two Egyptian parents and cannot be married to a non-Egyptian woman. Neither he nor his parents shall have another nationality except the Egyptian one. He shall practice his own civil and political rights.”

The fact that the president cannot be married to a non-Egyptian woman suggests that the president must be a man. As does the phrase “He shall practice…”

The interim military leadership has set a date of March 19 for a referendum on constitutional changes ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections in June and August respectively.

Egypt’s women have little time left to make sure the change they worked so hard to make possible becomes a reality.