22 February 2010

A tale of two courts

Our Supreme Court is a splendid example of both equality for women and the ability of women. The Court consists of five men and four women with a woman as Chief Justice. That's about as equitable as you can get. Canadian justice is the main beneficiary of this maximizing of Canadian talent, but not the only one. Our Court is internationally respected with its judgments quoted in proceedings around the world.

Egypt, in contrast, has only one woman on its highest court and if the Council of State, an influential body that advises Egypt's government, has its way, they won't have any more. Last Monday, the council voted 334 to 42 against the appointment of women. Incredibly, the decision contradicts the Egyptian constitution which reads, "All citizens are equal before the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination between them due to race, ethnic origin, language, religion or creed."

Up until 2007, Egypt had only one woman judge, Tehani al Gebali, who was appointed to the Supreme Constitutional Court by the president. Then the country's supreme judicial council selected 31 women for the bench. Conservatives, who claim women are not suited for the role, strongly objected. They are now getting their revenge. Both Egyptian women and Egyptian justice will pay the price.

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