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BY Mildred Europa Taylor, 3:00pm March 09, 2022,

For the first time ever, a woman judge presides over a hearing at a top court in Egypt

Egyptian female judge Radwa Helmi sits on her first court hearing at the State Council in the capital Cairo. Photo: Samer ABDALLAH AFP

Radwa Helmi on Saturday became the first woman judge to sit on the bench of Egypt’s State Council, a top court in the country. Set up in 1946 as an independent body, the State Council adjudicates administrative disputes and disciplinary cases, according to AFP.

There has never been a female judge on its bench until October 3, 2021, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appointed 98 female judges to join the council. Justice Helmi is now the first to sit on a court hearing at the State Council in the capital, Cairo.

At a press conference, Helmi thanked Egyptian President al-Sisi for taking a historic decision that she described as “an essential part of supporting every Egyptian woman”, jurist.org reported.

Currently, there is no rule barring women from serving as judges in the Muslim-majority country of Egypt, however, the judiciary has long been male-dominated. Even though Egypt has a lot of women lawyers, it was only recently that it had a female judge.

In 2003, Tahany el-Gebaly was appointed to the Egyptian Constitutional Tribunal and this made her the country’s first female judge. For 10 years, Gebaly remained in that post until 2012 when she was removed by then Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Women have over the years felt marginalized and alienated in Egypt. Even though successive Egyptian constitutions have given women some socio-economic and political rights, meaningful equality is yet to be achieved.

In Egypt, women at the moment hold about a quarter of cabinet posts and some 168 seats in the 569-member parliament, according to AFP. Most women do not have any authority over their personal lives or their children. Under Islamic Sharia-inspired law, men are given that responsibility, AFP added.

“The 5th of March has become a new historical day for Egyptian women,” the head of the National Council for Women (NCW), Maya Morsi, was quoted by the AFP after Helmi made history on Saturday.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 9, 2022


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