The Egyptian parliament passed a law Sunday adding 64 seats reserved for women to the lower house of the legislature. The quota creates 32 new constituencies with two seats each for women candidates only. It will take effect during next year’s elections and raises the number of seats in the People’s Assembly from 454 to 518.
Egypt’s Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mufid Shehab stated that the law “ensures parity for women and promotes their role in society, as stipulated by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Egypt has signed,” reported Agence France Presse. Shehab also indicated the law will be effective for just two five-year parliamentary sessions in hopes that after that period, the number of women in parliament will increase without affirmative action.
While many Eqyptian women praise the law as a step forward, others believe it is only a superficial attempt at empowering women or are suspicious of governmental motives. Nagla Mohammed, a homemaker, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, “It is good that women should play a role in politics…But I can only judge the impact of their presence in parliament after I see their practical contribution. It is not a matter of having women in parliament – the question is what they will do.”