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Record Number of Women Running for Parliament in Egypt


Egypt-elections-and-protests.pngEgypt, cradle of one of the world's oldest cultures and the most populous country in the Arab universe, will also be introducing a new event when the first two-day phase of its parliamentary elections opens March 22.  A record number of women, 212, will be competing for seats in what has traditionally been a male bastion of government.
 
If that figure doesn't surprise you, take note that a total 5,053 individuals have registered to run. Of that total, 4,841 are men. At least 3,514 candidates are running independently; only 1,539 are running with political party backing.
 
All this is happening in a country with a population of 85 million and 50 million registered voters. The average age of the voters is 45.
 
The country's average turnout at elections has been 35 percent, about the same as in the United States whose last election turnout in November 2014 averaged only 36 percent. And consider the U.S. has a population of 300 million with 207 million eligible voters but only 146 million registered voters, according to the latest U.S. Census data.
 
The Parliamentary elections are the first since Egypt's last parliament was dissolved in 2012. The first two-day phase is for Egyptian residents. The second phase will take place April 25-26 for expatriates and April 26-27 for residents.
 
But not everyone is pleased with the candidate situation. Several parties have flatly announced they will not be competing for seats because they see the elections as an invalid exercise.
 
The elections were announced in July 2013 after former President Mohammed Morsi was deposed in a military coup led by former Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. El-Sisi, former head of the army, is president of Egypt today.
 
The Constitution Party, founded by former Vice President Mohammed El-Baradei; the Strong Egypt Party, led by former Presidential Candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh; and the Popular Current Party, led by former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, say they are staying out of the races because the entire event lacks a true democratic theme.
 
Other well-known parties, however, including Al-Wafd, Free Egyptians Party, the Conference Party are expected to participate.
 
Women are now being accepted more and more in Egyptian political circles. That is startling just on its own. But the fact remains that in recent years, women in the Sinai have proved to be efficient community leaders. Many work from the field and respond to local problems more quickly and effectively than their male counterparts from larger regions of the country, according to non-challenged published reports.
 
But even in the 567-seat Egyptian Parliament, women still have a long way to go before their numbers will compare with their male associates. The makeup of the parliament shows 420 seats are elected through the individual candidacy system; 120 are elected through party lists; and 27 are selected by the president.
 
In the seat allocation column, 56 seats are for women, 16 seats for young people, eight for disabled people and 24 for Copts. Copts in Egypt constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East, as well as the largest religious minority in the region, accounting for an estimated 10% of the Egyptian population. Most Copts adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
 
It is this group that the ISIS terrorists attacked two weeks ago and beheaded 21 males in one of the worst human slaughters in recent Egyptian history.
 
Egyptian war planes, along with aircraft from other nearby Arab nations and U.S. drone aircraft have been bombing ISIS military sites daily for the past five months in Iraq and Syria without making a noticeable dent in the terrorists' armor.
 
Egypt and her neighbors argue ISIS has no connection with their biblical Islamic culture and should be eradicated wherever they are found.
 
And that's the way it is at this moment. 

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