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Voice, Rights and Laws

Women and Law in Egypt

Module

This collection of resources explores some of the limitations women have faced in trying to participate in politics in Egypt and the various laws and systems that have been created to support Egyptian women in gaining greater equality and levels of political participation.

Egyptian politics has recently gained the attention of the world due to people led revolutions in 2011 and 2013. It has also gained the attention of media and activists working in womens rights due to the impact these revolutions have had on women’s political empowerment and voice.

Leading up to the first revolution there was much debate around the low representation of women in parliament and what the government should do about it. In 2009 a new quota introduced an additional 64 seats in parliament for women. However, it was argued that it was not inclusive of all Egyptian women, and would only benefit elite/rich women.

Law reforms were also introduced with the intention of giving women more rights in their homes and the ability to make decisions about their lives. This case study explores in more detail the law khul, which gave women the right to seek divorce without the need for a reason or their husband’s permission, in exchange for giving up their financial rights. Further questions have been raised about how far khul and quotas go in empowering women.

This case study highlights the importance of looking beyond quotas and law reform when tackling issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment, including changing society beliefs towards women and addressing the cultural and historical reasons for restrictive systems. Women’s participation and experiences during the revolutions of 2011 and 2013 are also explored, and questions are raised as to whether their voices are being heard and listened to after the revolutions.