The Permanent Conference for Working Women in cooperation with the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services Submit a Message of Greeting and Appreciation to all Women in Egypt on the 8th of March 2021 especially Women Medical Workers
Today, we renew our celebration of the 8th of March, the International Women’s Day. In fact, this occasion always carries with it the continuous struggles and demands of Egyptian women for their social and economic rights in order to advance their conditions in society. So, celebration is conditional upon responding to our demands which are still missing under the existing legislations and policies that detract from women’s rights. The 8th of March comes this year while laws that perpetuate inequality and discrimination are still effective in many aspects. This requires us to shed light on the most important of these legislations:
- First: We were shocked to see the Parliament discussing a draft Family Law submitted by the government. This law should be the safety valve of Egyptian families. It came out after long debate and proposing several drafts that have aroused controversies. These proposals were refused because they contained articles that violate women’s rights. Nevertheless, the new draft law is also unjust for the different members of the family. It is also not consistent with the social, economic and cultural changes in society. It instigated the anger of Egyptian women as a result of its strengthening of sexist conceptions in society and violation of the rights of women who proved their strength and abilities in all roles and situations inside and outside the family.
- Second: In the Egyptian penal code no. 58 for 1937 and its latest amendments by Law no. 189 for 2020, discrimination and inequality still persist in a number of its articles especially articles allowing judges to grant clemency in murders, which is abused to create impunity for “honour” crimes.
- Third: Regarding legislations on labour relations and social protection, Social Insurance Law no. 18 for 2019 and Labour law no. 12 for 2003 and the draft labour law being discussed don’t protect the most vulnerable and poor sectors of labour. Labour law even excludes them from the scope of its legislative protection, i.e. domestic workers and workers in the informal sector. Moreover, it ignores the definition of sexual violence and harassment crimes at work and the stipulation of deterrent punishments for the perpetrators.
- Fourth: The law on the Regulation of Prisons and their Internal Regulations still don’t comply with international standards related to women prisoners. Moreover, there are large numbers of women in remand detention deprived of fair trial and human treatment.
Under these conditions, the Coronavirus crisis added to the suffering of women with the deterioration of economic conditions. So, we salute all women who struggle in Egypt especially women working in medical services. On the 8th of March, we give them all due respect and appreciation for the sacrifices they made during this difficult period under the repercussions of the Coronavirus in our country. We express our appreciation of all female nurses, pharmacists, doctors and administrative personnel who are first-line heroines in the fight against the Coronavirus. We quote here some of their words to reflect their experiences full of hardships and critical moments in which all kinds of human feelings were present including fear, anxiety, joy and comfort for fighting the pandemic, as follows:
- When humanity is under attack, we cannot stand idly by.
- I feel like a moving virus that people fear and avoid.
- I wait till the end of the day to throw myself into the arms of my children and family. In order to be able to protect patients and to be able to enjoy this hug as well, I strictly abide by the instructions of the WHO and take extreme precautionary measures.
- Inside of the treatment unit, the hard journey of therapy takes off. It is a journey based on women and men doctors, and nurses. The harshest thing we face is dealing with difficult cases for which available medical capabilities are weak.
- Being powerful here is not an optional thing. It is our duty as medical teams towards patients who trust us and expect us to exert our best efforts to save them.
- Those people who refuse to come lose to us thinking that we carry the virus will know later that we are doing this for them and that we are good people.
- I try to assure patients, especially kids, who fear doing the test, and to confront the disease with determination and persistence. I am sure we are able to beat this disease.
- I miss my family and kids. However, i currently isolate myself in an indirect way in order to protect their safety. What I hear from patients and the fear I see on their faces makes me more careful for the safety of my family.
- We don't have plenty of time to stop and think about it because we work. We will think everything thoroughly later. This always happened when I was in the Emergency Department. I didn't think. I just worked.
With these words, we can summarize the roles of medical workers who launched general mobilization against this pandemic. Women in this sector represent 42.4% of doctors and 91.1% of nurses who work for the Ministry of Health, as well as 73.1% of nurses in private hospitals and other health care facilities in the private sector. So, we extend our appreciation and respect for every worker in the medical sector. You are true heroines who deserve to be honoured in the 8th of March.
The Permanent Conference for Working Women
The Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services
8 March 2021