Source: Bikyamasr
Newly drafted election laws in Egypt may hamper female representation in parliament, worrying activists.

The drafted election law announced last Thursday mandates that female candidates may not appear at the top of electoral party lists.

Other measures in the newly drafted law include the cancellation of a previously enforced workers and farmers quota, and the redistribution of Egypt’s 183 electoral districts.

In July, authorities cancelled a 64-seat women’s quota that was employed in the 2010 parliamentary elections.

The women’s quota was once celebrated as a gain for women’s political representation in Egypt, however, some felt that the quota was not implemented well.

Activists reportedly sought to cancel the former regimes women’s quota system, hoping to replace it with a better alternative for enhancing female political participation. Instead, activists have witnessed retroactive measures that will limit the number of seats women can obtain in upcoming elections.

According the newly drafted law, each party is required to nominate at least one woman to their party list. Activists have expressed concern that this measure will not suffice, fearing that half of Egyptian society [women] will not be represented in the next parliament.

“This Military Council is gender blind. They do not see women’s issues. They cancelled the quota but they didn’t put any procedures back in place to help us have equal representation. This represents a lack of vision in general,” said Nehad Abul Komsan, the director of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights.

Activists seek to implement a system that will help to guarantee female representation in Egypt’s upcoming parliament.

“First we need to have proportional list for the election system. Second, we need to reserve one of every three seats for women on the lists. This could lead to 15-20 percent female representation,” she explained.

“There is a feeling that it is not the time—that we need to fight for the freedom of Egypt, not for women’s rights. Women will be able to build from here though. All circumstances after the revolution are better than before the revolution. Freedom is not an easy task. We hope to overcome the transitional period soon,” she added.

Elections for the People’s Council, the lower house of Egypt’s parliament, are now set for November 21. The Shura Council election will follow on January 22.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) must approve the dates, but that is likely to happen in the next few days.

Women are worried new election laws discriminatory.

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