EGYPT: Marginalized women set to receive identity cards and human rights

WNN Breaking

Egyptian Women stand in line to vote
Women voters stand in line to vote in Egypt's parliamentary elections December 2011. A national identification card is required for all voters in the country. Image: UN Women/Fatma Elzahraa Yassin

(WNN) CAIRO, Egypt: A brand new campaign in Egypt working with United Nations Egypt and numerous government and civil organizations inside the country have set up the “Your ID – Your Rights” campaign with a combined goal to help issue two million national identity cards to Egypt’s marginalized women, many who cannot vote or receive public services in Egypt. 

According to figures coming from the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, as many as 4 million women in the country do not have national identity cards. A woman without a national ID is not able to own land, she cannot buy or sell assets and she cannot even inherit her deceased family members. The lack of IDs also prevent women the access to various of public services, including education, healthcare, the right to vote and other basic social rights. And that’s why a new campaign was launched aiming to provide all women with national ID cards.

Egypt’s large online community are beginning now to push the campaign further on the web. Awareness and expanded knowledge about gender inequality inside Egypt is one of the major goals. Making good use of social media, especially Twitter and Facebook using the title the Million_ID campaign, organizers are working to raise awareness about women who have fallen between the cracks inside Egypt without citizenship recognition or human rights inside the region.

The three month pilot launch for the program will give women in Egypt’s Kaliobeya governorate which has fourteen districts with forty-thousand women who currently have no ID cards, a chance to get their own national ID card for free without the usual payment required.

Work to bring women’s rights with national identity cards has been an ongoing goal for many advocates in the region over the past few years, especially leading up to Egypt’s recent parliamentary elections.

Women at the lowest ebb of Egyptian society are many of those who continue to need ID cards. “In many parts of the world citizenship is emerging as the central point for protest and resistance by NGOs against deprivation and social exclusion.,” said the report, “Women Are Citizens Too,” by the Regional Bureau of Arab States at the UNDP – United Nations Development Fund in 2005.

This campaign launch is supported by the UNDP along with Egypt’s MSAD – Ministry of State for Administrative Development, UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), the SFD – Social Fund for Development and the  MoFA – Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Women who live in Egypt without identity cards today are forced to exist in a ‘bureaucratic limbo’ inside the country. In addition to being unable to vote, they are also unable to get travel documents or a driver’s license. Their marriage rights are also compromised as they are not allowed legal protections. Healthcare with immunization of children in Egypt is also a challenge, along with the ability to open a bank account or apply for a descent job.

Women who are part of the Baha’i population in Egypt are currently allowed to hold citizenship rights with national identity cards, but many of them are blocked from being able to do so. Advocates say getting a state sanctioned ID card can open many doors for women who live on Egypt’s margins.

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