The Powerful Women Under the Egyptian Regime: Equality & Protection Standards

Women In Law Edition 21'

Human Rights


Dahlia Hakim

One of the central values of Ancient Egyptian civilization, ostensibly the central esteem, was Ma'at﹣the concept of concordance and balance in all perspectives of one's life. As a mediator between divine beings and people, the pharaoh would demonstrate the critical obligation to living a well-balanced life.

During the most recent decades, women in modern Egypt have demonstrated their critical part and importance in all perspectives of life, and they were one of the crucial generators for the development within the Egyptian society. Under Egypt’s Constitution, women have a wide scope of rights and protective provisions in numerous fields. This article will give a brief on the rights that women have through the different Egyptian laws.

The Egyptian Constitution confirmed that women are equal to men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. The Constitution obliges the state to take all necessary measures to ensure the appropriate representation of women in the councils of representatives. The state shall also guarantee women’s right to occupy public and senior administrative positions and to be appointed in the judicial bodies and authorities without discrimination. The state is required to protect women against all forms of violence, to enable them to balance between family duties and work requirements, and to provide due care and protection of motherhood and childhood, elderly women, breadwinners and vulnerable women.

Women’s Political Participation

Nowadays, women in Egypt reached the highest level of female political representation within the history of the nation. A new clause added to the Egyptian Constitution reserves 25% of the seats in all local councils to women.

Women and Work

As per the Egyptian Labor Law no. 12 of 2003, women are not restricted from getting a particular career or work. The Egyptian woman’s right to get a job is not limited to merely her ability to do so, but the law also avoids any discrimination in regards to pay rates or work conditions stemming from sex, origin, language, religion, or belief.

Women and Custody

The Guardianship Law no. 119 of 1952 does not differentiate between a man and a woman in their eligibility of guardianship. But, there are some restrictions expressed by the Islamic Sharia’ Law and the other pertinent laws with respect to minors for protection purposes. However, the child shall remain in the custody of the mother or the maternal grandmother in the case of divorce until the child reaches 15 years of age.

Women in Criminal Law

The Criminal Law of year 1937 and its amendments ensure the protection of women against violence, mutilation, organ trade and torture, incitement of violence against women or specific women-based groups, “impingement of individual honor”, sexual exploitation and assault, and human trafficking.

Gender Equality

However, Egypt ranks low in its fight for gender equality compared to other countries worldwide, according to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Index. The index, which measures disparities between males and females worldwide, ranks Egypt at 136 out of 145 countries worldwide on the gender equality scale. Egyptian women have significantly lower participation within the labor pool than men (26% vs. 79%). Additionally, female literacy rates are also lower than that of males (65% vs. 82%).

One of the most persistent challenges facing Egyptian women stems from negative cultural traditions that are based on false religious biased conceptions. However, concerned government institutions, with the assistance of the National Council for Women, constantly try to fight these extremist ideologies by shedding light on the importance of t