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Egypt's women flock to vote but risk lacking parliamentary seats ?campaigners

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 29 Nov 2011 17:30 GMT
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LONDON (TrustLaw) - Women voted in high numbers on the first day of long-awaited parliamentary elections in Egypt, but some campaigners are concerned very few women will gain seats in parliament, Ahram Online news service reported on Tuesday.

Women, who were granted the right to vote in 1956, have been under-represented in the country’s political life. And the situation has not visibly improved after the February uprising which toppled Egypt’s former ruler Hosni Mubarak. 

The removal in May of a quota of seats reserved for female candidates – first introduced in 1979 – has raised concerns about whether women will get to actively take part in the country’s politics.

With their voices ignored by the ruling military and new electoral rules which drastically reduce their chances of being elected, women’s participation in Egypt’s socio-political life is once again at risk, the chairwoman of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, Nehad Aboul Komsan, argued at a seminar in Cairo earlier this month.

However, other campaigners said that seats in parliament are not the only pressing issue. High turnouts and quotas don’t necessarily mean women will be able to make their voices heard, Mozn Hassan, executive director of Nazra, an organisation for Feminist Studies, told Ahram Online.

“Counting is not the key…women must be in the public space, with equal rights, fully involved,” Hassan said.

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