Towards Equal Opportunity and Eliminating Discrimination against Women in the Administration of Justice

Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cairo, 23 March 2016- As part of Egypt’s efforts to achieve equality between women and men so that women can gain their civil, political, societal and cultural rights, as enshrined in the Constitution, the Ministry of Justice and the National Council for Women, with the support of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with the generous contribution of the Embassy of Japan, are holding a three-day international conference entitled ‘Towards Equal Opportunity and Eliminating Discrimination against Women in in the Administration of Justice’ from 22 March to 24 March.

The conference aims to highlight the status of women within the administration of justice and identify forms of discrimination against them and to emphasize the unification of visions between all judicial actors in Egypt so that Egyptian women are represented fairly and enjoy equal opportunities. The conference also aims to coordinate efforts to fast track the implementation of the constitutional provisions and establish a legal mechanism to combat discrimination against women in all areas of the administration of justice. The conference also tackles the evolution of women’s status in the Egyptian Constitution to eliminate forms of discrimination against them.

Dr. Miwa Kato; UN Women Egypt Country Director, highlighted that the 2014 Constitution of Egypt gave unprecedented rights to women, enshrining principles of equality before the law, rights protection from all forms of discrimination. However, translating these articles into reality, requires a hard look at factors that hinder implementation of the provisions of the Constitution.

Counselor Magdy El Agaty, Minister of Legal and Parliamentarian Affairs and Acting Minister of Justice; Judge Ahmed Gamal El Din Abdel Latif, President of the Court of Cassation and President of the Supreme Judiciary Council; H.E. Dr. Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women; H.E. Ambassador Mervat Tellawy, Director-General of the Arab Women Organization ; Mr. Ken Mukai, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan; Dr. Miwa Kato, UN Women Egypt Country Director; inaugurated the conference together with Mr. Masood Karimipour, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa.

Different panel discussions will take place throughout the three days of the conference with the contribution of various experts from countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, United Kingdom, and United States of America to share their experiences and visions. The discussions on the first day reflected on the global perspectives on discrimination against women in law and practice and the global trends in women’s access to justice.

"For justice to be realized there has to be an enabling environment and that enabling environment consists of having gender responsive constitutions, laws, and national development plans” stated Ms. Beatrice Duncan, UN Women Justice and Constitutional Advisor. Professor Khaled Serry, Legal Consultant and Lecturer in Criminal Law at Ain Shams University, presented ways to achieve equality for women in Egypt, mentioning that legal fees is one of the biggest problems facing women’s access to judiciary; therefore, efforts are exerted to cancel these fees and eliminate the discrimination against women; Dr. Saad El Din El Helaly, Lecturer of Comparative Jurisprudence at Al Azhar Univeristy and Member of the National Council for Women, discussed the Egyptian vision to combat discrimination against women. He emphasized that religion was never a challenge to gender equality and that Adam and Eve were sent to build the earth together and did not practice discrimination. Dr. Mohamed Gamal Eissa, Dean of Zagazig Law School and Member of the Legislative Committee at the National Council for Women, presented the interpretation and application of some the constitutional provisions on non-discrimination. He indicated that Egyptian women have succeeded in calling for their rights.

Discussions on the second day will address the historical development of women’s participation in the judiciary, learning from the experiences of the participating countries while highlighting their achievements and barriers they faced.

On the last day of the conference, recommendations from the discussions will be presented as a tool to advocate for women’s equal and full participation in decision-making in the judiciary, law enforcement and parliament.