Egypt to End Discrimination, to Allow Women Judges

Feb 10, 2020
By: Women in law Initiative

Egyptian women’s rights advocate and Justitia Award Laureate Omnia Gadalla wins major victory in fight against Egyptian State’s gender-based discrimination that barred women from becoming judges. After 9 years of legal battles, Egypt will allow female law school graduates to apply for judicial positions. 

After graduating second in her year from law school in 2013, Omnia dreamt of becoming a judge. The State refused to accept her application, stating explicitly that judicial positions were only for men. Art. 11 of the Egyptian Constitution emphasizes the State’s responsibility to “guarantee women’s right of […] appointment to judicial bodies and authorities without discrimination”. Still, Egyptian women are openly banned from judge positions especially on the Egyptian State Council and Public Prosecution.

Omnia had not studied the law to accept injustice. Instead, she established the #HerHonorSettingtheBar Initiative (المنصة حقها Her Honor Setting The Bar) to become one of the most outspoken advocates for female legal professionals in Egypt by taking her fight to court. That meant asking the Egyptian State Council that had refused her application to rule its own practices as unconstitutional. After 9 years of bureaucratic maneuvers and years-long adjournments, no verdict had been reached. In the meantime, Omnia Gadalla’s tireless struggle for equality garnered (inter)national recognition. In 2020, The Women in Law Initiative awarded her a Justitia Award.

The unexpected move by the Egyptian State to change their procedures, finally rendered a legal decision irrelevant. Starting this year, female law school graduates will be allowed to apply for judicial positions. Nonetheless, Omnia’s fight against discrimination is not over: “I always say that a right is never lost as long as someone strives to claim it. And there are still many rights Egyptian women have yet to claim”. The Women in Law Initiative will stand with her and keep supporting her work.

Original post appeared on Women in Law Initiative Facebook page

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