Sabah al-Sakkari is a 49-year old pharmacist and mother of four. She’s been an active member of her political organisation for 22 years, and is looking to move up in the ranks.What makes al-Sakkari different?
For starters, the entire world is watching her campaign.
Although she is not expected to win, al-Sakkari’s nomination has conjured a much more positive future for women’s rights in Egypt since June, when Mohammed Morsi, the former chair of the Freedom and Just Party, became the country’s first Islamist president. Morsi has since resigned as chair.
Al-Sakkari seems to share the conservative views of the Muslim Brotherhood. In an interview with the AP, she claimed that Shariah laws are the “top parameter” and “argued that she can’t call for a law banning female genital circumcision or limiting the marriage age for girls to prevent child marriage.”
She did stray from her party in her belief that woman have the right to run for president, and that she wants to see more political participation from women.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, she added:
In my platform, I pay special attention to women and youths, whom I believe should get the chance to occupy the highest positions in the party. Women in particular are very important since the progress of any society is closely related to them.
When asked about reports that female members must seek a husband’s approval to run for office, Sakkari noted the difference between approval and consultation, stating, “I would never run for or assume any position without telling my husband, but in this case I consult him rather than seek his permission as long as he initially approved my work in politics.”
Liberal observers worry that her nomination is purely symbolic and is being used to mask discrimination against women.
Bahy Eddin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, said told the AP that her nomination “is totally contradictory to the genuine beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood on the role of women.”
Al-Sakkari vehemently denied these accusations in an interview with Al Arabia: “I will never accept that the party or the group uses me like a decoration so that people can say the Freedom and Justice was the first party to nominate a woman for chairmanship because this is against my principles.”
Human Rights Watch released a report on Monday criticising the new regime’s stance towards women’s rights; article 36 of the new constitution, which has been under international scrutiny, states (according to HRW):
the state shall ensure equality between men and women as long as it does not conflict with ‘the rulings of Islamic Sharia’ and goes on to say that the state shall ensure that a woman will ‘reconcile between her duties toward the family and her work in society.’
The internal party election to replace Morsi is scheduled for October 19.
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