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Egyptian women demand voice in drafting constitution

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Julie Tomlin
WVoN co-editor

Women’s groups in Egypt are joining 14 other political groups calling for greater involvement of the people in drawing up the country’s constitution.

The setting up of the “Constitution for All Egyptians Front” was announced on Monday amid growing opposition to the constituent assembly chosen at the weekend charged with drawing up Egypt’s constitution.

The Egyptian Women with the Revolution group has joined forces with the other organisations to protest against Islamist domination of the assembly.

The prominent women’s rights activist Mona Makram Ebeid also pulled out of a 100 member panel on Monday, claiming it does not represent the people.

Ebeid, a former lawmaker, was one of only six women on the panel that includes nearly 60 Islamists and just six Christians.

“The religious nature and the absence of women are behind my withdrawal from the constituent assembly,” she said.

Egypt’s women won less than two per cent of the seats in recent parliamentary elections but campaigners had demanded that at least 30 per cent of the new constituent assembly be women.

This demand was ignored by the Islamist-dominated parliament, which recently voted that the it should be comprised of 50 lawmakers from parliament and 50 people from outside parliament, including members of civil society groups and public figures.

Egypt’s National Charter, which the Assembly will write, will of great importance to women as it will set out the place of Islamic law in the constitution, the role of the military and the status of Egypt’s women and minorities.

Campaigners argue that it is vital that the group drafting the document reflect the diversity of Egypt’s political, social, cultural and gender views.

The groups are considering lodging an appeal with Egypt’s State Council to declare unconstitutional the policy of drawing half of the constituent assembly’s members from among parliamentarians.

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