Female Judges and Prosecutors: Hopes and Challenges

Awards Edition 21'

national law


Moataz Aidaros

Although the declaration of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of appointing women as judges in the State Council and prosecutors in the Public Prosecution is considered a great step towards ending long decades of discrimination against Egyptian women, there are many obstacles and challenges along the way. Some of these challenges include the mechanism of appointing the female graduates since the 2014 constitution, in addition to the fresh graduates of the recent years. Also, the readiness of the members of the two judicial entities to welcome women as colleagues, and in some cases as superiors, especially since both entities spent decades rejecting the appointment of women due to many excuses.

One of these excuses is that the Islamic Sharia’a forbids appointing women as judges. This is despite the fact that in 2006 Grand Mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa said that appointing women as judges does not violate Islam.

Another excuse is the absence of the adequate logistics and the necessary infrastructure in courts to welcome women as members in both judicial entities. However, women represent 43% of the members of the Administrative Prosecution Authority, and 20% of the State Lawsuits Authority.

However, it is obvious that the abstention of the two judicial entities from appointing women is for cultural reasons and the absence of strong will to welcome women in such positions.

Cultural Reform or Legal Reform?

To reach female empowerment in Egypt’s judiciary, legislative reform alone is not adequate, and cultural reform needs to be executed in parallel within the judicial community.

However, some of the examples that may seem ridiculous and have great influence in the mentality of judges is that the Judicial Authority Law still contains the sentence “men of the judiciary”. Statements of the sort affirm the patriarchy of the Egyptian judiciary and should be amended to be as follows: “members of the judiciary”. Such steps need to be taken to assure the normalization principle of inclusiveness within the judicial institution.

The newly established National Training Academy (NTA):

Cultural reform must be achieved through continuous education to the members of the judiciary. To achieve proper judicial education for both newly appointed members and current members, the newly established National Training Academy should be the sole training academy for all members of the judiciary. It should offer wide education programs that include gender equality, public rights and freedoms, social inclusiveness as well as the appropriate understanding of Islam.