98 women judges have formally taken seats to preside over hearings at Egypt’s top court on Sunday March 6.
A day earlier, Radwa Helmi become the first woman judge in the country’s history to preside over a hearing at the State Council.
Helmi, a lawyer, appeared at the state council in Cairo on March 5, a few days before International Women’s Day.
“The fifth of March has become a new historical day for Egyptian women,” the head of the National Council for Women, Maya Morsy, said, according to AFP.
Helmi is one of the 98 women who were sworn in last October as the country’s first women judges in the State Council, which had previously been all male.
“This is a memorable day. It is a dream for us and for past generations as well,” Helmi told AP at the time. “Being a woman in one of the chief judiciary institutions in Egypt and the Arab world was a dream.”
The move came months after Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi asked for women to join the State Council and the Public Prosecution – two judicial bodies that were exclusively male.
The council had previously actively rejected women, with many women challenging the decision and saying that they were being discriminated against, according to the BBC.
However, rights groups have pointed out that women in Egypt who challenge the country’s conservative values are harassed and sentenced to prison for their activities as part of a crackdown on freedom under el-Sisi.
In January, a teacher was fired after a video of her belly-dancing at a private work social event went viral.
Last June, two women influencers were sentenced to six and 10 years in prison for “human trafficking” after they were detained for their TikTok videos that authorities said “violated family values.”