Notes: Egypt CEDAW report ( 34th and 39th meetings—1984)
Overview of Article:
- Since this was the first official report, there were more questions and issues that arose than answers and solutions.
- There was only a brief mention of adult literacy, widows, and school fees. When it came to the subject of female-headed households they only talked about the divorce process nothing more. I have given you the paragraph numbers for these.
- No concrete goals were noted. The representative’s responses were vague and she simply stated that these problems will be addressed at the next meeting.
- Islamic Law v. CEDAW
- Women not treated equally in the workforce
- There is a problem with the actual execution of the laws. Even if the laws are present, they are not easily enforced.
- The representative of Egypt states there is no discrimination against women
- She stated that Islam helps protect women’s rights and guarantees it
- The right to equal pay for equal pay in the constitution
- Women exercise rights through their occupations ( trade unions, professors, judges, etc.)
- 30 seats in national assembly are granted to women—women have right to compete with men for positions
- Vocational training centers were created for women
- Women can deal with her own finances without the intervenes of her husband
- Increase in women in educational institutions and universities
- Articles 2 and 16 are founding principles of CEDAW—because of article 28 the expert said the State isn’t allowed to have those two reservations. He also states there are unclear reasons for the reservations put in place.
Questions from experts on Egypt’s report:
- They questioned the difference between Islamic religious law and its interpretation and secular law. As well as what areas of law each governed.
- How had the Convention been incorporated into the judicial system of the country?
- How does Islamic law affects non-Muslim women in Egypt?
- How will the government reconcile the requirements of the Convention and of Islamic Law?
- Is there any specific law/requirements in the Egyptian constitution forbidding discrimination against women
- State’s response: “Harmony equated with equality”—this statement is usually held by male-dominated societies
- What proportion of women to men was on the ballot lists?
- It was pointed out that 30 out of the 392 seats was still a very low figure
- What percentages of women were in the Foreign Service at ambassadorial levels, in decision-making level?
- There seemed to be different practices in the private and public sectors concerning maternity leave.
- The private sector granted a one-year leave for women without pay.
- The public sector granted women a two-year leave with pay.
- There were also restrictions on the frequency with which such leaves were granted, what would happen to women with more than three kids.
- It was reported that women lawyers were entering the police academy- more was requested on this issue
- Traditional occupations of women received lower remuneration than men and once many women entered a particular occupation, the salaries would get lowered.
- Experts asked how the Egyptian government is handling this under the law of equal pay for equal work.
- Pension System:
- Expert asked what was the age of retirement and if pensions were collected by the widower as well as by the widow [p. 4. par. 200]
- Are day care centers were co-educational and free of charge?
- Are girls being encouraged to enter scientific and technical institutions instead of the more segregated disciplines?
- What was the literacy ratio level of males and females and were there literacy campaigns? [p. 4, par. 201]
- Do women in the rural and marginal areas benefit from the overall educational effort? What programs have been designed for them? [p. 4, par. 201]
- The Ministry of Social Affairs concerning family planning has taken what measures? And what sort of programs have they created?
- Was there a National Women’s Association in Egypt?
- There was no reference in the report to the incidence of prostitution or rape. And questions were asked as to rehabilitation of victims and sanctions for those offenses.
Response by representative of Egypt:
- Sharia law precedes the Convention and it has many parts that protect women and guarantees their equality with men.
- Age of retirement for both men and women is 60
- Sharia law only applies to Muslims and not to people who practice other religions
- The provisions of the convention were in compliance with the constitution and other legislation. Any contravention of the convention was treated like any contravention of Egyptian legislation and was equally punishable
- Responding to whether discrimination against women was forbidden in Egypt: under the constitution all citizens were equal irrespective of their sex, origin, religion, or belief.
- In regards to reservation of article 16: Islamic law has given a prominent position to all women and liberated them from any form of discrimination.
- For more details on Islamic law and marriage look in article [p. 6, par. 217]
- Besides certain rights and responsibilities during marriage, Islamic law had given women all the necessary rights before the ratification of the convention.
- Polygamy is retained in Islamic law with definite restrictions because when Islam was first introduced women did not work and outnumbered men because of war causalities. Such a solution was the only way to provide women with financial recourses and to preserve their dignity.
- In Reference to the Personal Statute law:
- Islamic law is only applicable to Muslims and non-Muslims are governed by other laws and subject to other tribunals.
- In divorce, custody of a child up to the age of 10 for the son and 12 for the daughter was given to the mother. The judge could prolong the custody up to the age of 15 for the son and up to marriage for the daughter. However, the paramount aimed at looking after the interests of the children.
- Role of women in legislative and political fields: there are 31 constituencies in Egypt and that each one had to have at least one female member. Through free elections women could acquire more seats. It was hoped that by the following elections, the number of women would be doubled.
- Only 81 women occupied posts in the diplomatic services compared with 1,000 men. But this was not because of discrimination but because there was a lack of interest among women in such posts.
- If an Egyptian mother married a foreign husband and thereby agreed to give the fathers nationality to the child, the child could nevertheless opt for Egyptian nationality, subject to a decision by the Minister of the Interior.
- In regards to eliminating illiteracy: The State guarantees education at all levels free of charge. [p.7, par. 227]
- In addition to a widows own pension, the widow is entitled to a part of her husbands pension after his death; A divorced woman with no financial recourses is entitled to a part of her deceased father’s pension [p.7, par. 229]
- The private sector gives a one year leave without pay for pregnant women because these women receive other benefits
- 246 women clubs are state owned. They are placed under the Ministry of Social Affairs to train women in productive skills.
- Any unanswered questions will be taken up in the next report with statistical data.