CAIRO — Women have long been banned from holding judgeships in Egypt's State Council, the administrative court system, but a recent legislative initiative offers them a glimmer of hope. The Egyptian parliament has been wrangling with the State Council since March 8, when legislator Suzy Nashed announced the legislature's intention to submit a draft law that would force the council to appoint female judges. The State Council is the only judicial institution in Egypt that does not welcome female judges.
Women’s battle against the State Council began in 1952, when Aisha Rateb, a lawyer, filed suit against the council, calling for the appointment of women to judicial positions. Rateb took the step after the State Council announced its need for assistant delegates, relatively low-level positions, but refused to appoint her. The State Council held that the time had not yet come for women to occupy judicial positions. Although Rateb lost her suit, she succeeded in serving in other senior positions and became ambassador to Denmark and minister of social affairs and security in the 1970s.