Gender Gap Index[1]

Gender Gap Index 2014
Overall Economic Participation Political Empowerment Educational Attainment
Rank Score Rank Score Rank Score Rank Score
129 0.626 131 0.461 134 0.041 109 0.947
(Rank: out of 142 countries) (Score: 0.00 = inequality, 1.00 = equality)


Family Code/ Personal Status Law

  • There is no unified Family Code in Egypt. Personal Status Law governs Muslim women’s rights within marriage and the family, where the principles of Islamic Shari’ah are the main source of legislation (Article 2). Other faiths apply their own community’s religious standards to family matters (Article 3)


  • Following a change in the Child Law in 2008, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 for men and women.
  • However, research from AUC suggests that early marriage remains pervasive in Egypt. According to a study on 4500 women in the Cairo Governorate, nearly 17% of women aged 10 to 29 were married before the age of 18
  • Civil marriages are only allowed in instances where an Egyptian citizen is marrying a foreigner
  • As of 2008, both men and women have the right to pass on their nationality to their children.
  • However, Islamic law views fathers as the natural guardians of children, though mothers are the physical custodians, they have no legal rights


  • Muslim men have the right to initiate divorce without consent. Women are only able to do so under certain conditions such as domestic violence or illness, and risk forfeiting financial entitlements in doing so.
  • Since 2005 amendments to Muslim personal status law, in the event of divorce women retain physical custody of children until they are 15. The court may extend this until the age of 21 if deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
  • In its Concluding Observations, the CEDAW Committee noted that Coptic women married to Muslim men were in a very precarious position in regard to divorce and custody rights. The same is true of women married in 'urfi' marriages.

Resources and Assets

  • The 2014 Constitution recognises female-headed households and the State's duty to protect them.
  • Women do not have equal inheritance rights in Egypt. The Inheritance Law (1943) is based on Shari'ah law, and has a complicated allocation system in regard to the division of property following death. Women may inherit only half the share of men when both have the same relationship to the deceased. The Inheritance Law applies to all Egyptians, regardless of faith
  • The Egyptian Civil Code and Commercial Code give women equal rights to own and access land. It appears that women's access to land is governed solely by civil law. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) 5.2% of land in Egypt is owned by women.
  • Customary practices dictate that in rural areas, women are not able to inherit land; instead, this is divided up between male descendants. In other cases, women may be prevented from accessing and using property that they have legally inherited, or only given permission to inhabit the property (and are unable to sell it or rent it out)
  • Women have equal rights to own and access land and non-land assets under the Egyptian Civil Code and Commercial Code. A woman retains ownership of any property that she acquired prior to marrying. Within marriage, women's right to own and manage property other than land is restricted, as the marital home remains the exclusive property of the husband.
  • There are no legal restrictions on women’s access to financial services, including credit, in Egypt and women do not need the permission of a male relative or husband to apply for a loan (laws not specified)


  • Discrimination on the basis of gender in employment is banned under the Constitution and Law No. 12 of 2003, which regulates the conditions of employees of the public sector, public business sector, and private sector.
  • In Egypt, pregnant women are entitled to three months’ paid maternity leave, and can then take up to two years’ unpaid leave. While on maternity leave, women are entitled to 100% of their salary. Both the state social security scheme and the employer pay for maternity leave.


  • Though illegal, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is very widely practices in Egypt, where according to UNICEF 91% of women aged 15-49 have been cut.
  • The 2014 Constitution establishes that the State shall protect women against all forms of violence and ensure enabling women to strike a balance between family duties and work requirements.
  • The Egyptian penal code does not specifically criminalise domestic violence, although cases can be brought under laws relating to general assault
  • Rape is a criminal offence under Egyptian law. However, socially conservative attitudes towards sexual assault and gender violence mean that conviction rates are very low. There has been some movement on this in the past year.
  • On June 4, 2014, a new law was passed criminalising sexual harassment for the first time in Egypt under Article 25 of the Penal Code. The first arrests under this new law occurred in June 2008.
  • Spousal rape is not recognized as a crime, though it is now no longer possible for a rapist to escape prosecution by marrying the victim

Political Participation

Women's Political Participation Year Total Source
Number of women in parliament (single/lower house) 2014 N/A (no current parliament) IPU database
% of women in parliament 2014 N/A
Legislated quotas for women for single/ lower house (yes/no) 2014 NO The Quota Project database


  • The 2014 Constitution adopted in January of that year established equality for all citizens (Article 9), and guarantees that the State shall ensure the achievement of equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights (Article 11). Discrimination based on gender is banned, as is discrimination based on: religion, belief, sex, origin, race, colour, language, disability, social class, political or geographic affiliation (Article 53).
  • The equal right to vote and run in elections is outlined in Article 87.


  • Egypt’s New Law for Parliamentary Elections (2014) established quotas, which party lists are mandated to fill, yet only in the upcoming elections. In the two 15-seat districts, each list should have seven women, three Christians, two workers or farmers, two youth, one disabled Egyptian, and one expatriate. In the two 45-seat districts, the lists must include triple those numbers for each group.
  • Article 180 of the new Constitution reserved one quarter of seats in elected local councils for women.
  • Article 11 of the newly adopted Constitution of Egypt (adopted through a referendum in January 2014) provides that ”The State shall ensure the achievement of equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. The State shall take the necessary measures to ensure the appropriate representation of women in the houses of representatives, as specified by Law. The State shall also guarantee women’s right of holding public and senior management offices in the State and their appointment in judicial bodies and authorities without discrimination”.


  • Currently no Parliament.
  • Majilis Al-Chaab/ People’s Assembly:
  • In the Nov 2011-Jan 2012 elections to the new Egyptian parliament, only 8 women (1.8 %) were elected. The supreme council of the military forces (SCAF) appointed additional 10 MPs, 2 were women, bringing women's overall share to 2.2 %: 10/508


  • According to research by the Global Media Monitoring Project in 2010, women made up 54% of presenters and 67% of reporters in broadcast media surveyed. However, women were the subjects of broadcasts in only 38% of cases.
  • In addition, according to the International Women’s Media Foundation, women are underrepresented in managerial positions in media organisations [6]

CEDAW and reservations[7]

  • Egypt ratified CEDAW in 1981, with reservations to the following articles (2, 9:2, 16, and 29):
  • In respect of article 9: The citizenship law was changed in June, 2004, due to a vigorous and systematic campaign by Egyptian women’s CSOs and the National Council for Women.
  • In respect of article 16: One aspect of Egyptian divorce law has changed since ratification. In 2000 a new law was adopted allowing women to initiate divorce under the Kuhl’. After 10 years of implementation, recent studies depicted that Khul’ represents no more than 3% of divorce decrees granted by Egyptian courts annually.
  • In respect of article 29: The Egyptian delegation also maintains the reservation contained in article 29, paragraph 2, concerning the right of a State signatory to the Convention to declare that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph 1 of that article concerning the submission to an arbitral body of any dispute which may arise between States concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention. This is in order to avoid being bound by the system of arbitration in this field.
  • General reservation on article 2: The Arab Republic of Egypt is willing to comply with the content of this article, provided that such compliance does not run counter to the Islamic Shari'ah.
  • Article 29, paragraph 1.
  • It has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol on violence against women.

Economic Empowerment[8]

Women’s Economic Participation Year Total Source
Labour Force Participation
Ratio of female to male labour force participation 2014 0.32 World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014
Labour force participation, female (% of total labour force) 2013 26% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Labour force participation, female (% of female population 15-64) 2012 25.6%
Labour force participation, male (% of male population 15-64) 2012 78.8%
Youth Employment
Ratio of female to male youth unemployment rate (% aged 15-24) 2012 272.7% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Unemployment, female (% of female labour force) 2014 24.1% World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014
Unemployment, male (% of male labour force) 2014 9.3%
Unemployment, total (% of total labour force) 2012 12.7% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Firms with female participation in ownership (% of firms) 2014 34% World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014
Boards and Upper Management
Share of women on boards of listed companies (%) 2014 7% World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014
Sectors of Work
Agriculture (% of female employment) 2011 43.2% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Agriculture (% of male employment) 2011 25.7%
Women employed in non-agricultural sector (% of total non-agricultural employment) 2014 18% World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014
Industry (% of female employment) 2011 5.1% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Industry (% of male employment) 2011 28.1%
Services (% of female employment) 2011 51.5%
Services (% of male employment) 2011 46%
Vulnerable employment (% of female employment) 2010 44.8%
Vulnerable employment (% of male employment) 2010 17.7%
Employers, female (% of employment) 2010 3.1%
Employers, male (% of employment) 2010 17.6%

[1]World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014:
[2] All information on legislation has been sourced from the OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index, 2014: Unless stated otherwise.
[6] Byerly, Carolyn M. (2011), p.11
[8] All information on economic empowerment has been sourced from the World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank: Unless stated otherwise.