Cairo, Egypt – AFP
Radwa Helmi has made history as the first woman judge to sit on the bench of Egypt’s State Council, a top court in the Arab country.
Helmi, making her appearance in a Cairo courthouse on Saturday, was among 98 women appointed last year to join the council, one of Egypt’s main judicial bodies, following a decision by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“The 5th of March has become a new historical day for Egyptian women,” said the head of the National Council for Women (NCW), Maya Morsi.
The move came ahead of the March 8 International Women’s Day.
Egypt has hundreds of women lawyers but it took decades for one to move up the judicial ladder and become a judge.
The first was Tahany al-Gebaly, appointed in 2003 to Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court.
Gebaly held that post for a decade.
Although no law bars women from being justices in Egypt, the judiciary in the conservative Muslim-majority country has traditionally been a male preserve.
The State Council was set up in 1946 as an independent body which mainly adjudicates in administrative disputes and disciplinary cases.
Women gained the right to vote and run for public office in 1956.
Women currently hold about a quarter of cabinet posts and some 168 seats in the 569-member parliament.