For the first time in Egypt’s history, Radwa Helmi on Saturday became the first woman to sit on the bench of Egypt’s State Council, a top court in the country.
Radwa Helmi was one of 98 women appointed last year to sit on the bench of the State Council in Cairo, one of the main judicial bodies in the country of 106 million.
Since its inception in 1946, there has not been a single female judge on its bench. The council has long opposed the nomination of women. This persisted until October 3, 2021, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appointed 98 female judges. Justice Helmi was the first to take a seat on the dais.
Vice president of the State Council, Taha Karsoua called the move “a dear gift for women in Egypt.”
The head of the National Council for Women (NCW), Maya Morsi, said the day marks a significant occasion for women in the country.
“The fifth of March has become a new historical day for Egyptian women,” she said. “The dreams of earlier generations of women finally come true.”
Female judges in Egypt make up only one out of 200 and roughly 25 percent of cabinet posts in parliament are held by women.
Although there is no rule prohibiting women from serving as judges in Egypt, the judiciary has long been male-dominated in the Muslim-majority country.
In 1956, women were granted the ability to vote and run for public office. However, their personal liberties have remained restricted.
Tahany el-Gebaly was appointed to the Egyptian Constitutional Tribunal in 2003, making her the country’s first female judge.
During a press conference, Justice Helmi described the decision as, according “great responsibility” to her, while appreciating Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his historic decision. She added that the decision is “an essential part of supporting every Egyptian woman”.
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