The issue of women’s political empowerment has received great attention at the local and international levels, especially in the last decade, and calls have increased for the need to reduce the gender gap, eliminate discrimination in all its forms, and push women towards decision-making and decision-making positions, based on the close relationship between the success of development programs for any country and between Empowering women and raising their capabilities, especially since they represent nearly half of society and have a great impact on the rest of society.
The world is currently depending on measuring the level of progress of any society and its interest in human development through two basic criteria, which are the political participation of women, and their empowerment in all fields after depriving them of exercising their political rights in the old decades and excluding them from participation in all fields.
In this context, the current political leadership of Egypt believes in the necessity of integrating women politically and pushing them towards promotion to higher government positions, in line with the democratic transformation that the country is witnessing, and in the interest of achieving comprehensive development.
The focus will be on the axis of political empowerment and strengthening the leadership roles of women 2030, given the obstacles that faced their political participation throughout history, through 6 axes:
First Axis: concept of political empowerment.
Second Axis: dimensions and elements of political empowerment.
Third Axis: indicators of political empowerment of women in Egypt.
The paper’s main findings are as follows:
1- The representation of women in the current government is 18%, compared to 6% in 2015 and 2.8% in 2013.
2-The percentage of women as deputy ministers increased from 17% in 2017 to 22.2% in 2022, with two women out of 9 deputies.
3- The number of assistant ministers reached 41.4% in 2019, while the percentage of women in the position of deputy governor reached 30.4% in 2019.
-4 The percentage of women assuming leadership positions in the Ministry of Local Development was about 34.4%, and 33% in the Petroleum Authority and Holding Companies, and in the Ministry of Electricity it was about 43%, and about 40% in the Ministry of Health and 43% in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
5- The representation of women in the Egyptian diplomatic cadre in 2021 reached about 30% of the total number of diplomats.
6- The percentage of women’s representation in Parliament 2020 is about 27%, which is the highest percentage of women in the history of the Egyptian Parliament, which made Egypt rank 16th in the world, and the first in the Arab world in terms of women’s representation in Parliament.
7- Egypt advanced 48 places in the index of women’s political empowerment in the Global Gender Gap Report.
The paper present a number of recommendations:
1- Reviewing and amending laws related to women’s rights, especially personal status laws, and increasing their representation in various institutions and enabling them to assume leadership positions.
2- Coordinating between state institutions, civil society, and the media to adopt an expanded campaign to raise awareness of women’s successes in many fields, and to enhance society’s confidence in the capabilities and competence of Egyptian women and their ability to assume leadership positions.
3- Increasing the financial support allocated to the process of qualifying and building the capacities of women cadres in all fields and training them on leadership, management, decision-making, planning, communication and influence skills.
4- Political parties, trade unions, and civil organizations develop policies and mechanisms to ensure fair representation of women and push them towards assuming leadership positions within them, and prepare and qualify them to run in legislative elections.
First: political empowerment of women concept
Empowerment is the removal of all stereotypical processes, trends and behaviors in society and institutions that marginalize women and other groups and put them in lower ranks.
As for the political empowerment of women, it means their access to decision-making and leadership positions that influence decision-making or policy development or it is to make women possess the strength, capabilities and ability to be an active element in change, especially political development.
political empowerment of women concept is linked to self-realization and enhancing their capabilities to participate in political life, such as parliamentary representation, access to decision-making positions, and drawing up public policies, by relying on policies and procedures and adopting constitutional and legal legislation that guarantees the elimination of all practices of discrimination and exclusion to which women are exposed.
Second: Dimensions and components of women’s political empowerment
The political empowerment of women involves two dimensions: the subjective dimension: which appears through the individual awareness of women in terms of their sense of the circumstances surrounding them, and their ability to obtain new knowledge in all areas of life, and the social dimension: which appears through creating an environment conducive to the political integration of women in the form that It gives it the full ability to bring about change within society as one of the engines of development in society.
A set of elements that are necessary for the political empowerment of women to be achieved:
-A constitutional and legislative environment that supports women’s orientation towards political participation and their assumption of leadership and senior political positions.
-A community environment that believes in the role of women as an essential and active partner in various community issues and as pioneers of change and development.
-A supportive cultural environment for women’s political participation by increasing societal awareness and changing stereotypes about the role of women.
-Media support women’s participation in political life and contribute to changing the prevailing stereotype of women, especially in light of patterns of discourse hostile to the idea of women’s participation.
-United Nations indicators to measure the concept of empowerment of women:
·Women’s participation in leadership positions, in committees and public positions.
· Providing non-traditional education and training opportunities for women.
· Women’s participation in the decision-making process.
· Women acquire organizational skills and abilities to create groups to demand rights.
Third: Indicators of political empowerment of women in Egypt
We can review the most important indicators of the political empowerment of Egyptian women as follows:
1-Women in the executive branch:
Women obtained 6 ministerial portfolios within the Council of Ministers, representing 18% of the total number of ministers in the current government, compared to 6% in 2015 and 2.8% in 2013. The female ministers are: Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad, Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of Culture, Nevine El-Kilani, Minister of Social Solidarity, Nevine El-Kabbaj, Minister of State for Immigration and Affairs of Egyptians Abroad, Soha Gendy, and Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Hala El-Saeed.
It is noticeable here that women hold ministries that are closer to the traditional roles of women imposed by society, with limited exceptions confined to the ministries of investment, international cooperation and planning, while sovereign ministerial positions were and still are the preserve of men.
B. Senior management positions:
The development of the women presence in senior management positions, as the percentage of women as assistant ministers increased from 17% in 2017 to about 22.2% in 2022, with two women out of 9 assistant. While the percentage of women in the position of assistant governor reached 30.4% in 2019.
The percentage of women assuming leadership positions within ministries, according to the follow-up report on the activities of ministries 2019-2020 issued by the National Council for Women, was about 34.4% in the Ministry of Local Development, 33% in the Petroleum Authority and Holding Companies, and in the Ministry of Electricity it reached about 43%, and about 40% in Ministry of Health and 43% in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
c-Diplomatic and consular corps
The representation of women in the Egyptian diplomatic cadre in 2021 reached about 30% of the total number of diplomats, which reflects the keenness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its interest in women joining the diplomatic work. More than ten female ambassadors also hold the positions of head of a diplomatic mission and consul general abroad, thus increasing the percentage by 7.5% compared to 2012, when the representation of women in the diplomatic and consular corps was 22.5%. Despite this, the proportion of women is still weak compared to men in occupying these jobs.
D. Local Administration
Local administration units
The percentage of women’s representation in the various local administration units is very weak, as there are only a limited number of women who occupy the positions of assistant governors, heads of neighborhoods and mayors.
For the first time in Egyptian constitutions, the 2014 constitution stipulated allocating a quarter of seats for women in local councils, but no elections have been held so far, the last of which was in 2008, when the percentage of women’s representation was 7.4%.
2-Women in the legislative power
In the House of Representatives elections in 2020, women won 162 seats in Parliament (the appointment system is 14 women, 148 women are by the electoral system) out of a total of 564 seats, which represents about 27% in the House of Representatives. This percentage is the highest in the history of parliament, which made Egypt rank 16th in the world, and the first in the Arab world in terms of women’s representation in Parliament in 2020.
Figure No. (1) shows the proportions of women’s representation in the House of Representatives according to the quota system
The percentage of women in the Senate reached 14%, with 41 seats out of a total of 300 seats, compared to 2.7% in 2012, and a woman was appointed for the first time to the position of Deputy Senate.
It should be noted here that the “quota” mechanism for allocating seats contributed to increasing the number of women in parliament, but this measure remains incomplete as long as it did not contribute to integrating women into the electoral process and enhancing their ability to gain the confidence of the electorate.
3- Women in the judiciary
A- The Constitutional Court: A judge – Dr. Fatima Mohamed Ahmed Al-Razzaz, Dean of Law of Helwan – was appointed as a assistant the Supreme Constitutional Court in 2020. She is the second woman to be appointed to the court since its inception in 1969, after the late Chancellor Tahani Al-Jabali, who was appointed in 2003.
B- The High Judiciary: The number of female judges reached about 66, divided into 6 with the rank of chief of appeal, 16 assistant chief of appeal, 32 chief of court, and 13 with the rank of judge, after 31 female judges were appointed in 2007, then another group was appointed in 2008, then A third group in 2015 includes 26 women who were appointed as judges of the courts of first instance. To date, this is a small number, as there are more than 16,000 judges.
C- The State Lawsuits Authority: The percentage of female judges in the State Lawsuits Authority reached about 20% during 2021. Six women counselors were appointed as vice-chairmen of the State Lawsuits Authority in 2017.
d – Public Prosecution: 11 female judges were appointed to the Public Prosecution, for the first time after the approval of the Supreme Judicial Council, based on a request submitted by the Public Prosecutor, Counselor Hamada Al-Sawy, to transfer 11 female judges to work for the Public Prosecution, with their grades corresponding to the judiciary, to work for the Public Prosecution for the judicial year 2021/2022, and also for the first time. The door is opened for females to apply for the position of assistant public prosecutor in 2022.
4- Women in political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations
Women’s participation in political parties is still very weak, not exceeding 5%, especially since most parties’ regulations do not provide for allocating a specific percentage for women. In addition, women did not assume the position of president of a political party, its official spokesperson, or its secretary-general, so men occupy such positions, and the role of women is limited to women’s committees, social and service work, and organizing events and seminars. Women’s participation in political parties is still very weak, not exceeding 5%, especially since most parties’ regulations do not provide for allocating a specific percentage for women.
At the level of professional syndicates, which number about 25, we find that their regulations do not take into account the gender dimension, and women are not represented fairly.
With regard to non-governmental organizations, the gap between the representation of men and women in decision-making positions is evident in favor of men, and despite the participation of women in field and administrative work, they are excluded from leadership positions, especially in rural societies that are still dominated by a patriarchal culture.
As a result of the serious steps taken by the Egyptian state in the path of women’s empowerment at the political level, Egypt has advanced by about 48 ranks in the women’s political empowerment index in the Global Gender Gap Report, reaching its best level in 10 years, as it occupied the 78th position in 2021 compared to the 126th position in 2011. It also advanced 70 places in the indicator of women’s representation in parliament, as it occupied the 66th position in 2021, compared to the 136th position in 2020.