|Woman voting in Egypt. Photo credit Carnegie Endowment.|
|Crowd in Tahrir Friday, December 2. Note veiled woman in jeans in foreground. Photo credit, the author.|
No women have been elected from the lists in Egypt's first round of elections. In addition, absolutely no women made it into runoffs from the single winner component of the election in the first round.
I spoke with high ranking women activists in Egypt. Many said that the most important consideration was not gender, but the electability of the candidates. This makes a lot of sense in the single-winner portion of the elections, but I am wondering if this argument makes as much sense for the list portion of the election.
It appears people voted based on what they felt the electoral blocks, or parties represented. They did not vote so much based on the individual candidate. This position of mine appears to be strengthened by the fact that people's preferences in the single-winner portion of the election closely tracked their behavior in the list section.
I find the absence of women in the first round particularly distressing for two reasons. First, women are at least 50% of the Egyptian population. Second, there is a concern that some parties that have recently been elected do not believe that women have the right to hold complex or high profile jobs.
The secular political parties need to rethink their strategy on getting women elected. In particular, it appears that if secular parties want women to get elected, they need to place them in slots 1 or 2 in selected districts where the party is expected to do well. ~WMB