GENEVA – 12 September 2018: Maya Morsi, President of the National Council of Women (NCW), chaired earlier Wednesday, a seminar on the rights on women in Egypt, Qatar and Bahrain. The seminar was held on the margin of the 39th Session of the International Council for Human Rights held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Rabha Gathy, the Chairperson of the Association of the Egyptian Female Lawyers (AEFL) and Said Abdel Hafez, the Chairperson of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue, also participated in the seminar. Magdi Helmy, the prominent human rights expert, moderated the panel.
The seminar covered a wide array of topics within Egypt, Bahrain and Qatar, as well as forced displacement of the Tawargha tribe in Libya and the process of revoking citizenships from the Al Ghufran tribe in Qatar and terrorism’s impact on the human rights situation in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Egypt.
The seminar discussed Egypt, Bahrain and Qatar. - Egypt Today
During her speech, Morsi explained that Egypt has taken great strides in legislation focusing on women’s rights, stating that the situation for women in Egypt now is a lot better than it used to be.
“The June 30 revolution saved women's rights from being lost as a result of extremist groups and their ideologies,” Morsi said, continuing, “The 2014 Egyptian Constitution laid down the rules of citizenship in terms of rights and duties.”
Morsi also pointed out some of the positive steps that have been taken by the current Egyptian Administration, under the direction of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, in order to enhance women’s participation in the political and public spheres.
“Women in Egypt hold 25% of leading positions and decision-making circles in Egypt.”
Still, this is set to improve even more, according to Morsi, who said, “2017 was the year of the Egyptian women, during which the 2030 Women's Development Strategy was put in place… More than 100 civil society organizations participated in the development of the 2030 Women's Development Strategy.” This strategy is set to improve the status of women and ensure they are protected and able to participate.
Egypt is aiming to go beyond protection of women and towards ensuring their participation, according to the strategy and the steps taken by the Egyptian government, as well as civil society organizations and grass-roots foundations.
“The Takaful and Karama program is one of the most important social protection initiative for Egyptian women,” said Morsi.
The seminar also discussed forced displacement of the Tawargha tribe in Libya and the process of revoking citizenships from the Al Ghufran tribe in Qatar. - Egypt Today
Building on Morsi’s statements, Fathy commended the efforts of the Egyptian state and the important role that President Sisi played in ensuring that women are well-represented, “the President naming 2017 the Year of the Egyptian Women carried forward the struggles of Egyptian women and illustrated the President's belief in the importance of women's participation [in the public sphere].”
Moving on to Bahrain, Fathy said, “Bahrain has joined all international conventions that guarantee women's rights since the 1990s,” explaining that Bahrain has worked to take all steps towards ensuring women are well-represented and are able to enter all public and political spheres as equals to men. “The Bahraini leadership in Bahrain has put in place a number of initiatives and programs to support the participation of Bahraini women [in the public sphere].”
“Women in Bahrain are represented in all levels of the Kingdom.”
The seminar covered terrorism and its impact on the human rights situation in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Egypt. - Egypt Today
Turning to Qatar, one can see—straight away—the difference between it and Egypt and Bahrain, wherein the former not only discriminates between men and women, but also between ‘original’ Qatari nationals and citizens who have been naturalized, according to Abdel Hafez.
“Article 12 of Qatar's Nationality Law No. 38 of 2005 recognizes racial discrimination against non-Qataris,” explains Abdel Hafez, continuing, “Article 16 of the Nationality Law [No. 38 of 2005] also affirms the unequal status between citizens of Qatari origin and naturalized citizens.”
The shocking inequality that exists within Qatar has also been called out by its own governmental entities. “The Qatari National Human Rights Committee, a government committee, has reported blatant discrimination between men and women [in Qatar],” explains Abdel Hafez.
“The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Qatar to define racial discrimination in its legislation.”
The panel of the seminar on women's rights - Egypt Today
The inequality between men and women in Qatar is only aided and exacerbated by the fact that women are under-represented in the state. Even at the judicial level, women remain under-represented—with a weak, if at all heard voice—and unable to enter into the public or political sphere.
“Out of some 200 judges, there are only 2 female judges in Qatar,” said Abdel Hafez, explaining, “ The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers expressed concern regarding the low number of female judges serving in Qatar.”
The Seminar discussing human rights issues in Egypt, Qatar and Bahrain - Egypt Today
The association and the forum have also organized a stand against terrorism that will take place in front of the Broken Chair in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva.
The delegation will also meet with a number of human rights, development, and forced disappearance rapporteurs, as well as a number of international missions participating in the session.
The delegation, which will also participate in the 39th session, includes a large number of human rights activists and experts, as well as Egyptian media officers, who will present both spoken and written accounts of human rights in Egypt and the Arab region.
It is worth noting that this is the second time that the Association of the Egyptian Female Lawyers and the Dialogue for Development and Human Rights Forum participate in the Human Rights Council’s 39th Session. Both entities participated in the 38th session held last June, where they held three seminars on human rights in Egypt and the Arab region.
A side of the seminar of women's rights - Egypt Today