For the first time in history: Women lead national human rights bodies in Egypt



Mon, 04 Oct 2021 - 04:11 GMT


Mon, 04 Oct 2021 - 04:11 GMT

FILE – New President of the National Council for Human Rights Moushira Khattab (L) and President of the National Council for Women Maya Morsy – NCW

FILE – New President of the National Council for Human Rights Moushira Khattab (L) and President of the National Council for Women Maya Morsy – NCW

CAIRO – 4 October 2021: Egypt has recently made significant efforts to empower women nationwide and ensure that women assume high-level diplomatic and political posts.

For the first time in history, Egyptian women could garner this number of seats in the parliament, winning 162 out of 568 seats.

As per a presidential decision, Egyptian women for the first time ever in the country will be able to work at the State Council and the Public Prosecution.

Of 33 ministries in Egypt, women hold currently seven ministries.

Another major step taken by the Egyptian House of Representatives today en the route of fully empower women was selecting veteran diplomat Moushira Khattab to lead Egypt’s national human rights body.

National Council for Women

This is in addition to Maya Morsy, the human rights and women advocate who leads the National Council for Women (NCW) established in 2000.

Morsy obtained her Bachelor’s from the American University in Cairo in political science and holds a PhD from the Institute of Arab Research and Studies in Cairo in public policy.

She also holds an MBA from the City University of Seattle and an MA in public administration from Seattle.

In her remarks during the launch ceremony of UN Development Program (UNDP)’s report on human development in Egypt for 2021 in September, Morsy voiced appreciation of the political leadership's support of women-related issues.

"Egyptian women are now convinced that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is the primary defender of their rights,” Morsy added.

National Council for Childhood & Motherhood

Minister of Health Hala Zayed in 2020 issued a decision appointing Sahar Al-Sunbaty as secretary-general of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), to succeed Dr. Azza Al-Ashmawy, a veteran female official who passed away.

Sunbaty was working as head of the family planning sector at the Ministry of Health.

Established in 1988, the NCCM is in charge of policymaking, planning, coordinating, and assessing activities related to the protection of children and mothers.

NCCM’s work frame includes cooperation with the UN as well as a wide network of NGOs, students, volunteers, community leaders, academia, youth centers and schools.

National Council for Human Rights

Moushira Khattab has been selected to lead the National Council for Human Rights, Egypt’s independent council in charge of developing and promoting human rights.

The selection comes shortly after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi last month announced the launch of Egypt’s National Strategy for Human Rights, to serve the country’s comprehensive human rights concept.

Established in 2003, the NCHR is composed of twenty-seven members, including the president and vice president.

The NCHR, through independent work in the country, seeks to develop and implement a national strategy for human rights as well as to protect and promote human rights in accordance with the Constitution.

The NCHR’s vision is to “make human rights concerns a national priority.”

The Council holds human rights-related conferences, sessions and round-table discussions. It also posts regular reports about the recent developments of the human rights situation in the country.

The NCHR also cooperates with the National Council for Women and the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood to enhance the state’s institutions’ efficiency regarding promoting human rights.

This comes through developing media campaign and educational programs and through training state officials.

Who is Moushira Khattab?

The Egyptian House of Representatives announced on Monday selecting Khattab, also a human rights activist, as the new president of the NCHR.

Khattab held several high-level diplomatic posts and was Egypt's candidate for the post of UNESCO Director-General at the 2017 elections but lost the runoff vote to her French rival, Audrey Azoulay.

Khattab was born in 1944. She holds a B.A. in political science from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science in Cairo University.

She also holds a PhD from Cairo University on child’s rights and an M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in international relations.

In 1992, Khattab served as Egypt’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia then to Slovakia then to Czech Republic. She also served as Egypt’s ambassador to South Africa between 1994 and 1999.

For ten years, Moushira served as the secretary general of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood until 2009 and then became the minister of family and population until 2011 during the tenure of late President Hosni Mubarak.

She served as assistant minister of foreign affairs for international cultural relations and served at Egypt's diplomatic missions in Budapest, Vienna and Melbourne. She also served at the UNIDO.

The House on Monday also selected Ambassador Mahmoud Karem as vice president of the NCHR. Karem served as Egypt’s ambassador to the European Union and has been a member of the NCHR.

Nehad Lotfy Aboul Qomsan, an Egyptian activist in women’s rights and widow of renowned Egyptian politician Hafez Abu Saada, was selected as a member of the NCHR.

The House selected other members of the NCHR, namely George Ishak Gerges, Hany Ibrahim Fahmy, Ghada Mahmoud Hamam, Noha Talaat Abdel Latif, Samira Luke Daniel, Mohamed Esmat El-Sadat, Dina Hisham Abbas, and Ismail Abdel Rahman Mohamed.

Other members include Journalist Ezzat Youssef Ibrahim, Dr. Mohamed Anas Qassem, Dr. Mohamed Sameh Bandar, Dr. Hoda Ragheb Awad, Dr. Nevin Abdel Moneim Mosaad, Dr. Noha Ali Bakr, Lawyer Abdel Gawad Ahmed Ahmed, and Lawyer Rabeha Fathy Shafik.

The members also include Lawyer Essam El-Din Ahmed Taha, Lawyer Saeed Abdel Hafez Darwish and Dr. Ayman Gaafar Ahmed, Dr. Walaa Gad El Karim, Lawyer Mohamed Mamdouh Galal, Lawyer Alaa Sayed Shalabi, Dr. Mahmoud Mohamed Saad Metwally, and Dr. Wafaa Benjamin Mitri.

National Strategy for Human Rights

President Sisi in September attended a celebration to launch the 2021/2026 National Strategy for Human Rights in Egypt in the New Administrative Capital (NAC).

The strategy includes the main axes of the comprehensive concept of human rights, which is to be integrated with Egypt's national development path that consolidates the principles of the establishment of the New Republic and achieves the goals of Egypt's vision 2030, said Presidential Spokesman Ambassador Bassam Radi.

The spokesman said the strategy is the first comprehensive and long-term self-strategy in the human rights field in Egypt.

The strategy will build on the progress achieved during the past years in the field of maximizing freedoms and rights and overcoming the challenges in this regard, Radi said.

This comes with the aim of enhancing and respecting all civilian, political, social, economic and cultural rights, the spokesman added.

The strategy strengthens policies in backing the rights of women, youth, the elderly, the disabled and all segments of the society, he pointed out.

The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli, Defense and Military Production Minister Mohamed Zaki and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Areas the Strategy is Concerned With

The strategy consists of four sections that are Civil and Political Rights; Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Rights of Women, Children, Disabled, Youth, and Elderly; and, Awareness and Capacity-Building in the Field of Human Rights.

The first section deals with nine areas that are physical safety, personal freedom, fair trial and right of litigation, prisoner and detainee rights, freedom of expression, peaceful gathering, right of forming civil society organizations and associations, freedom of creed, and right in privacy.

The second section deals with eight areas that are healthcare, education, work, social insurance, nutrition, access to safe water supply and wastewater, proper housing, and cultural rights.

The fourth section deals with five areas that are promoting awareness pertinent to human rights, introducing human rights content in education curricula, training members of the Police Authority, training members of judicial entities, and improving the training programs delivered to workers at the administrative body.

Additional reporting by Noha El-Tawil



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