(R to L) Ambassador Moushira Khattab, professional squash player Nour El Sherbini, Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr, Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram - Photo compiled by Egypt Today/Mohamed Zain
CAIRO – 17 December 2017: Throughout 2017, women gained more rights in several fields with the support of the government.
On Dec. 5, Parliament passed a new inheritance law that gives women their legitimate right to inheritance after numerous suppressed women – especially in Upper Egypt and some rural and urban areas – were deprived of it.
Egypt used to have no sanctions to punish someone who keeps members of a family – usually women – from receiving their rightful shares of an inheritance.
Often an inheritance is kept from a woman because the family fears property ownership would transfer to her husband and not be kept in the immediate family.
Accordingly, the National Council for Women (NCW) started pressuring Parliament to issue a law guaranteeing inheritance rights for Egyptian women, until February when the parliament’s Legislative Committee approved an amendment proposed by the government to Inheritance Law No. 77/43.
Under this amendment, a number of violations would be considered criminal offenses; such violations include intentionally depriving heirs of their rightful inheritance. The amendment proposes punishment of at least three years in prison and a fine ranging between LE 20,000-100,000 (around $1,119-5,595).
Also hiding documents that could prove a person's legal right to an inheritance is considered a violation. In such cases, the offender would be sentenced to at least six months in prison and a fine ranging between LE 10,000-50,000. If the violation is repeated, the amendment calls for a sentence of at least one year in prison.
In a relevant context, early this year, Parliament approved a draft bill pushing for tougher penalties on sexual harassment. The bill imposed an increase in fines ranging between LE 5,000-10,000 on those who are found guilty of sexual harassment in public or private areas, with harassment defined as gestures, words, any modern means of communication or any other action that carries sexual or pornographic hints.
This year, women in Egypt managed to accomplish further gains on the political and decision-making levels. The Feb. 2017 Cabinet reshuffle included nine new portfolios, one of which was occupied by Hala Al-Saeed, minister of planning. Furthermore, the Ministry of Investment and the Ministry of International Cooperation have been merged to become the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation headed by Sahar Nasr, thus keeping her as the figure of four ministries. This is in addition to the already appointed Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali and Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram.
Moreover, among further Cabinet appointments is Nadia Abdo, the first woman to assume the post of governor for Beheira governorate in 2017. Also, the number of parliamentary female members reached 90 in the current parliament, 76 of which were elected, in addition to 14 appointed, at a ratio of 15 percent of the total number of the members. Moreover, the rate of female voters has reached 55 percent.
This year witnessed the winning of Egyptian female swimmer Farida Othman as the best athlete in Africa as a whole. Also Nour Al-Sherbini, who won several matches in squash, was considered as Egypt's squash ambassador.
Moreover, for the election of UNESCO general manager, Egypt nominated the country's eminent ambassador Moushira Khattab, who was also Egypt's former secretary general of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, as well as former minister of state for family affairs. Khattab honorably lost the election to French candidate Audrey Azoulay.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced that Egyptian women have played a vital and significant role to help Egyptian society overcome the current difficult conditions.
The Egyptian leader made his statements during an Iftar banquet held under his auspices to honor women after he announced 2017 as the “Year of Egyptian Women.”
During his speech, al-Sisi expressed his deep respect for Egyptian women's resilience.
“The Egyptian woman, unlike in many countries around the world, and due to the difficult circumstances of Egypt, endures so much. In fact, when we were on the economic reform procedures over the past two years, or longer, I knew that in every house, I, or rather Egypt, had a prop,” Sisi said in the video, where pictures of Egyptian female athletes and professionals.
“Indeed, when we were taking these measures I always said I would address and talk to the Egyptian woman and tell her ‘please help me and help Egypt.’ The path we have house is a cruel and painful path, but I swear, God willing, with what we are doing, we are laying the real foundations for a real state. A real state,” he added.