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WNN Breaking

Tahrir Square Cairo, Egypt, February 12, 2011

Men, women and children eat birthday cake as they sing in Arabic to celebrate the birthday of a new nation in Cairo, Egypt on February 12, 2011. As a new constitution is finalizing now in the region, women are asking that ‘human rights for all’ be included in the nation’s new charter. Image: Joseph Hill

(WNN) Cairo, EGYPT: As a new Constitution for Egypt is looming, women and human rights organizations are particularly concerned about the inclusion of articles stipulating the importance of gender equality. Advocates are calling for both women with men, in all spheres of Egyptian life be treated under the law equally. This includes equal rights under Islamic Law within Egypt’s cultural, civil, political, social and economic spheres of life.

Because of varying interpretations of Islamic law known as ‘Sharia’, Articles in the new Constitution may cause women and girls to face unfair and unreasonable treatment say advocates, as the lowering of the minimum age of marriage requirements for girls may be lowered to match religious law, which allows girls in Egypt to be married before puberty.

Although the Egyptian parliament remains dissolved with no indication of when new elections will be held, a Constitutional Committee is now set to draw up a new Charter for the country. But women’s rights advocates are dismayed by the continued exclusion of women in the context of legal rights. With challenges ahead that may forbid women to enter on an equal footing with men in numerous areas of Egyptian life, many women are hoping to push forward. An evident and worrisome fact is that very few women are currently part of the Constitutional Committee.

Known throughout Cairo and the nation, the Constitutional Committee has been criticized by rights organizations for its bias after Committee members were unconstitutionally appointed.

Despite there being little to no transparent process for constitutional review under the debate of the full draft various provisions, such as discriminatory Articles outlining separate and different rules for men than women, have leaked out to the public sphere.

“The current draft Constitution is incompatible with the aspirations of the January 2011 revolution and Egypt’s international obligations and commitments,” says Equality Now with advocate partners on Thursday. “Please continue to support those in Egypt who are demonstrating to ensure that women’s rights are protected and promoted under the new Constitution,” says advocates as they urge the Constitutional Committee to guarantee sex equality as set forth in Egypt’s previous Constitution. They are also asking that the human rights instruments ratified in Egypt’s previous Constitution stay in place without deletion. These human rights principles include the United Nations CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is now feared that specific words outlining the text with ‘equality for all’ may be completely excluded from Egypt’s upcoming laws and legislation.

Outlining what the public can do, Egyptian organizations like the Alliance for Arab Women, along and CEWLA and Equality Now, are asking regional and global advocates to send letters to demand that Egypt’s constitution clearly promotes “equal rights for all Egyptians.”

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For more information about this action and to send a personal letter of petition – link to Equality Now HERE

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2012 WNN – Women News Network

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