|Egypt in turmoil|
Article 10 is also quite problematic for women’s rights. It retains elements of the 1971 Constitution, stating “The state shall provide free motherhood and childhood services and shall balance between a woman’s obligations toward the family and public work. The state shall provide for special care and protection for single mothers, divorced women and widows.”
In a report released on November 30th, Human Rights Watch said, “The state’s role should be confined to ensuring equality and non-discrimination, without interfering with a woman’s choices about her life, family, and profession or to justify discrimination on that basis.”
The failure to specify discrimination on the grounds of gender is further reiterated in Article 33, which states, “Citizens are equal before the law and equal in rights and obligations without discrimination.” The article does not specify the kind of discrimination, be it gender, religious, etc., nor does it clearly state who this provision covers.
There is a valid economic reason of great importance for this change to be made in Egypt's constitution, as Leah Eichler points out in the Globe & Mail:
To prove my point, I’d take copies of a recent report, entitled Empowering The Third Billion, by Booz & Co., a global management consulting firm . The “third billion” refers to the nearly one billion women who are set to enter the global economy in the next decade, rivalling in importance the growth of India or China.
Failing to capitalize on this growth would translate into a missed opportunity in developing and developed economies alike, the report showed. For example, if female employment rates matched men’s in the United States, it would boost the country’s overall GDP by 5 per cent. In a country such as Egypt, the economy would grow by 34 per cent.
All Egyptians would benefit from the greater involvement of Egyptian women in that struggling economy. It's a pity that those jockeying for power and trying to enshrine male dominance in that society fail to recognize this.
Let's hope those protesting succeed in bringing about changes to the draft constitution.