Radwa Helmi attended Egypt’s State Council, one of the highest courts in the country, as the first female judge presiding over hearings. Helmi is amongst the 98 women who were appointed to join the council last year, one of the country’s main judicial bodies after the decision was made by President Abdel-Fattah el-Siss. The 5 March marks “a new historical day for Egyptian women,” said Maya Morsi, the head of the National Council for Women (NCW).
Since the 19th century, most Egyptian women have been segregated from the judiciary. Under the Islamic Sharia-inspired law, women have less presence in court and only hold 168 parliament seats out of 569. Another woman who held a judicial role was Tahani el-Gebali. She was appointed to Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional court in 2003 but was later removed in 2012 by President Mohamed Morsi.
Although no religious rules have stopped women from holding high-ranking posts, the judiciary remains patriarchally dominated. When it comes to the question of women having equal rights as men, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb refuses to answer it.