Third and combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of States parties
313. In introducing the reports, the
representative of Egypt emphasized the improvement in favour of women
in the legal, institutional and practical domains. In the legal domain,
many laws, such as family laws, had been amended in favour of women.
The National Council for Women had been created in February 2000 by
Presidential decree as the first political institution focusing on the
empowerment of women, monitoring of implementation of the Convention
and laws and policies affecting women's lives. The Council reported
directly to the President, and its 30 members had been selected from
different disciplines and sectors, including the academic community and
non-governmental organizations. The representative stressed the
importance of collaboration between non-governmental organizations, and
the Council, particularly with regard to the implementation of
programmes aimed at the reduction of poverty resulting from
privatization and structural adjustment programmes, particularly among
female heads of household in both rural and urban poor areas.
314. The representative informed the
Committee that, during the 2000 elections, the National Council for
Women had supported the participation of women both as candidates and
as voters. Women's awareness of the importance of political
participation had consequently increased, and the number of female
candidates had increased from 87 in 1995 to 120 in 2000, with 7
candidates being elected in 2000, compared to 5 in 1995.
315. The legislative committee of the
National Council for Women had reviewed the current nationality law and
recommended that it be amended to entitle Egyptian women married to
foreigners the right to confer their nationality on their children. It
had reviewed the draft labour law, recommending amendments to ensure
that existing benefits, including maternity leave and leave to care for
children, remained available for all working women, including those in
the governmental, public and private sectors. In addition, the
legislative committee was reviewing the draft law on passports, which
had been formulated in response to the ruling of the Supreme
Constitutional Court that a ministerial decree requiring the husband's
consent to the issue of a wife's passport was unconstitutional. The
legislative committee within the National Council for Women would
initiate a campaign to raise awareness of the draft law, and had formed
a committee to elaborate a new family code.
316. The representative informed the
Committee of recent laws and regulations that sought to eliminate
discrimination between women and men. These included Law No. 12 of
1996, passed in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the
Child7 to provide protective measures for mothers and children and to
guarantee the rights of women as mothers and working women, and Law No.
1 of 2000, enacted after a 10-year period of consultation. Law No. 1,
which entered into force on 1 March 2000, grants women the right to
"khul", or unilateral divorce by repudiation without the need to prove
damage. Executive decrees issued as a result of Law No. 1 of 2000
included a new marriage contract, which came into effect on 16 August
2000, elaborating protective provisions relating to finances and
polygamy. In addition, article 291 of the Penal Code, which provided a
defence in cases of kidnap and rape where the defendant marries the
victim, was repealed.
317. The representative noted that,
despite the progress that had been made in implementing the Convention,
there were a number of areas that required attention. They included
discrimination against women with regard to the nationality of their
children, the low number of women in many areas of decision-making,
including the Parliament, the absence of women in the judiciary, the
high levels of illiteracy among women and girls and violence against
women. In order to overcome these obstacles, human rights education was
important. The National Council for Women was pursuing an awareness
campaign with the aid of the concerned authority. Human rights
education had been included in law courses taught at the Police
Academy. She referred to the ongoing awareness campaign and training
courses on human rights for law-enforcement and legal personnel.
318. The representative said that the
Government intended to enhance efforts towards the achievement of
equality between women and men and the elimination of discrimination
against women. She noted that cultural constraints and traditions
sometimes impeded change and obstructed implementation of the law. In
this context, she said that the Government, through the National
Council for Women and in collaboration with the Egyptian
intelligentsia, both men and women would seek to use indigenous
formulations, which were deeply rooted in Egyptian and Islamic culture
and which asserted the equality between women and men. With the aid of
all concerned, governmental and non-governmental organizations, the
National Council for Women would participate in campaigns to raise
awareness and ensure proper interpretations, clarify misinterpretations
of religious concepts and demonstrate that the principles of sharia
provide for the full equality of women with men, and respect for
women's human dignity.
319. In conclusion, the representative
informed the Committee that efforts were under way to address the
reservations entered by the Government of Egypt upon ratification of
the Convention. It had recommended the withdrawal of the reservation to
article 2 of the Convention and those to article 9, paragraph 2, and
article 16 were actively under review.
320. The Committee commends the Government of
Egypt on its third and combined fourth and fifth periodic reports,
which are in accordance with the Committee's guidelines for the
preparation of periodic reports. It also commends the Government for
the comprehensive written replies to the questions of the Committee's
pre-session working group, and the oral presentation of the delegation,
who sought to clarify the current situation of women in Egypt and
provided additional information on the implementation of the Convention.
321. The Committee congratulates the
Government for its high-level and large delegation, headed by the
Secretary-General of the National Council for Women. The Committee
appreciates the open dialogue that took place between the delegation
and the members of the Committee.
322. The Committee welcomes the establishment
of the National Council for Women, which was created by Presidential
decree, reports directly to the President and is mandated to monitor
laws and policies affecting women's lives, raise awareness and monitor
the implementation of the Convention. The Committee considers that the
establishment of the Council reflects strong political will and the
Government's commitment to enhancing the status of women in compliance
with the Convention. The Committee commends the fact that
non-governmental organizations are represented in the Council and that
they participated in the preparation of the reports.
323. The Committee notes the introduction
of legal reforms aimed at the elimination of discrimination against
women, particularly Law No. 1 of 2000, which, inter alia, gives women a
right to terminate a marriage unilaterally (khul).
324. The Committee takes note with
appreciation of the important reduction of female illiteracy rates
obtained by Egypt by implementing special programmes and specific
325. The Committee notes that, although the
Constitution guarantees equality of men and women and the Convention
prevails over national legislation, the persistence of patriarchal
attitudes and stereotypical behaviour with respect to the role of women
and men in the family and society limit the full implementation of the
326. While appreciating the efforts of the
National Council for Women to encourage the Government to withdraw its
reservations to articles 2 and 9, paragraph 2, and article 16 of the
Convention, the Committee expresses its concern that these reservations
entered by the State party upon ratification have been retained.
327. The Committee urges the State party
to expedite the steps necessary for the withdrawal of its reservations
and in that regard draws its attention to the Committee's statement on
reservations in its report on its nineteenth session8 and, in
particular, its view that articles 2 and 16 are central to the object
and purpose of the Convention and that, in accordance with article 28,
paragraph 2, they should be withdrawn.
328. The Committee notes with concern
that women who seek divorce by unilateral termination of their marriage
contract under Law No. 1 of 2000 (khul) must in all cases forego their
rights to financial provision, including the dower.
329. The Committee recommends that the
Government consider a revision of Law No. 1 of 2000, in order to
eliminate this financial discrimination against women.
330. The Committee expresses its concern
that the Egyptian nationality law prevents an Egyptian woman from
passing on her nationality to her children if her husband is not
Egyptian, while Egyptian men married to non-Egyptians may do so. It is
concerned by the hardship faced by the children of Egyptian women
married to non-Egyptian men, including financial hardship with regard
to education. The Committee considers this limitation on the rights of
women to be inconsistent with the Convention.
331. The Committee calls upon the State
party to revise the legislation governing nationality in order to make
it consistent with the provisions of the Convention.
332. The Committee notes with concern
that the persistence of cultural stereotypes and patriarchal attitudes
impedes progress in the implementation of the Convention and the full
enjoyment of their human rights. In this regard, the Committee is
concerned that article 11 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states
that the State shall enable a woman to reconcile her duties towards her
family with her work in society and guarantee her equality with men in
the sphere of political, social, cultural and economic life, appears to
entrench the woman's primary role as mother and homemaker.
333. The Committee urges the Government
to increase awareness-raising programmes, including those specifically
directed towards men, and to take measures to change stereotypical
attitudes and perceptions about the roles and responsibilities of women
334. The Committee expresses its concern
at the continuing stereotypical portrayal of women in the media, which
encourages discrimination and undermines equality between men and women.
335. The Committee urges the Government,
including the National Council for Women, to support the important role
of the media in changing stereotypical attitudes towards women and in
promoting equality between men and women as prescribed by the
Constitution and international standards. It recommends that
opportunities be created for the portrayal of positive, non-traditional
images of women and that the number of women in decision-making
positions in the media be increased. It also recommends that the
Government establish, within the Council, a monitoring body on the
representation of women in the media.
336. The Committee expresses its concern that the Government has addressed HIV/AIDS only as a health issue.
337. The Committee urges the Government
of Egypt to address the multidimensional and cross-cutting nature of
HIV/AIDS, including its human rights, economic, social, development and
338. Taking note of the successful
efforts by the Government to reduce the drop-out rate for girls in
primary education, the Committee notes with concern the remaining high
level of illiteracy among women, and the rate at which girls and young
women drop out of secondary school and university.
339. The Committee calls upon the
Government to continue to strengthen its efforts to eradicate female
illiteracy, in particular in the rural areas. It urges the Government
to continue its programmes to prevent drop-outs by girls in primary
education, and to reduce the drop-out rate of girls and young women at
secondary school and university, including through the use of
incentives for parents, so as to provide young women with the necessary
skills and knowledge to participate on the basis of equality with men
in the labour market.
340. The Committee expresses its concern
that stereotypical attitudes about the roles of women and men in the
family and society are reflected in the low level of representation of
women in decision-making at all levels and in all areas. The Committee
expresses its concern in particular that, although there is no law that
prohibits the appointment of women as judges, no woman has ever been so
341. The Committee calls upon the
Government to increase the number of women at all levels of
decision-making, including in government and Parliament. It urges the
Government to implement temporary special measures, such as numerical
goals and quotas connected to time frames, in accordance with article
4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, in order to increase the
representation of women at decision-making levels in all areas.
342. The Committee expresses its concern
at the lack of information on the participation and conditions of women
in the labour market, including in the private and informal sectors,
and that there is little information and data on the impact of the
recent privatization measures taken by the Government.
343. The Committee calls upon the Government to provide more information on this area in its next periodic report.
344. The Committee expresses its concern
that, although efforts have been made, there is no holistic approach to
the prevention and elimination of violence against women, including
domestic violence, marital rape, violence against women in detention
centres and crimes committed in the name of honour or the punishment of
perpetrators. The Committee is also concerned at the high level of
violence against adolescent girls and young married women.
345. The Committee urges the Government
to conduct a national survey of the extent of violence against women,
including rural women. It calls upon the Government to assess the
impact of existing measures to address the various forms of violence
against women. It recommends that the root causes of violence against
women, especially domestic violence, be investigated so as to improve
the effectiveness of legislation, policies and programmes aimed at
combating such violence. It also recommends that the Government
implement training and sensitization programmes for the judiciary,
law-enforcement officials and members of the legal and health
professions, as well as awareness-raising measures to create zero
tolerance in society with regard to violence against women.
346. The Committee expresses its concern
that several provisions of the Penal Code discriminate against women.
In particular, in case of murder following the crime of adultery, men
and women are not treated equally. In addition, prostitutes are
penalized, while their clients are not.
347. The Committee urges the Government
to eliminate any discriminatory penal provisions, in accordance with
the Constitution and the Convention.
348. While welcoming the Minister of
Health's Decree of 1996 on female genital mutilation, the Committee
expresses its concern at the lack of information on the implementation
of this Decree.
349. The Committee requests the
Government to provide full details on the implementation of this Decree
in its next report, including on public awareness-raising campaigns run
by all actors (ministries, the National Council for Women and
non-governmental organizations) and on measures that have been taken to
educate those whose livelihood depends on performing such procedures.
350. The Committee expresses its concern at the lack of information on rural women, especially in the informal sector.
351. The Committee calls upon the
Government to provide in its next periodic report a comprehensive
picture of the situation of rural women, in particular with regard to
education, health and employment. The Committee recommends that the
Government monitor existing programmes and develop additional policies
and programmes aimed at the economic empowerment of rural women,
ensuring their access to productive resources and capital as well as to
health-care services and to social and cultural opportunities.
352. The Committee expresses its concern about the high number of early marriages of girls, especially in rural areas.
353. The Committee recommends that the
Government amend the law on the legal age of marriage to prevent early
marriage, in line with its obligations as a State party to the
354. The Committee expresses its concern regarding the continued legal authorization of polygamy.
355. The Committee urges the Government
to take measures to prevent the practice of polygamy in accordance with
the provisions of the Convention and the Committee's general
356. The Committee urges the Government
to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to
deposit, as soon as possible, its instrument of acceptance of the
amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the
meeting time of the Committee.
357. The Committee requests the
Government to respond to the concerns expressed in the present
concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article
18 of the Convention.
358. The Committee requests the wide
dissemination in Egypt of the present concluding comments in order to
make the people of Egypt, in particular governmental administrators and
politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure
and de facto equality for women and of the future steps that are
required in this regard. It requests the Government to continue to
disseminate widely, in particular to women's and human rights
organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the
Committee's general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and
Platform for Action and the results of the twenty-third special session
of the General Assembly, entitled "Women 2000: gender equality,
development and peace for the twenty-first century".