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EU focus on women’s rights crucial to real democratic development in Egypt, says Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

[Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Copenhagen/Cairo, 5 July 2011] In an Open Letter to the Egyptian Prime Minister, Issam Sharaf, to the EU High Representative for the Union of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Asthon, and to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barosso, 35 representatives of Egyptian civil society organisations working on human rights and women’s rights express their concerns over the transitional period after the January 25th revolution in Egypt. According to them the period has been characterised by a tendency towards marginalisation of women who were excluded from the Constitutional Committee and the abolishment of women quota in the review of law on political rights.

The Open Letter follows the workshop “EU – Egypt Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan, what opportunities does it offer to strengthen women’s political participation and promote their political rights? " which took place in Cairo on 27 ? 28 June 2011.

The organisations met on the invitation of the New Woman Foundation and the Euro?Mediterranean Human Rights Network. They believe that Euro?Med policies on gender equality can offer opportunities to promote gender equality, to contribute to eliminate discrimination against women, to combat gender based violence and to promote equal participation of women in public, economic and political life. This can be achieved under the condition that all parties deal with the integration of gender approach in the current partnership agreements with due seriousness.

Ms. Lone Lindholt, Executive Committee member of the Euro?Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), says: ‘The Egyptian women’s organisations have a lot of capacity, engagement and experience, but the challenges facing Egypt now are enormous. The EU positioning and collaboration in the bilateral agreements are very important in this aspect as complimentary to national efforts’.

Amal Abdel Hadi, board member of New Woman Foundation, adds: ‘It is necessary for the EU to review its policies in dealing with dictator regimes, to activate article 2 of the partnership agreements which promotes respect for human rights and not to grant advanced status or other privileges to states without achieving progress in relation to human rights and gender equality’.

The Open Letter also calls on the forthcoming Egyptian Parliament to abolish discriminatory articles against women in all legislation, including the Penal Code, the Personal Status Law and the Labour Law, to meet Egypt’s commitments to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

New Woman Foundation and the Euro?Mediterranean Human Rights Network will continue to advocate and lobby for the implementation of the recommendations, in cooperation with Egyptian human rights and women’s rights organisations.

More information:

Lina Alqurah, EMHRN project coordinator, Tel +962 6 5818716, e?mail:
lqu@euromedrights.net

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