Egyptian women demand voluntary military service

Egyptian women demand voluntary military service
Blog: A student movement demanding that women should be able to join the military this week staged a protest at Cairo University.
2 min read
09 Oct, 2015
The new student movement demands voluntary military service for women [YouTube]
Members of the "Egyptian female soldiers" student movement staged a protest at Cairo University campus on Thursday to demand the acceptance of women volunteers for military service.

They also want the right to enroll in all departments of the country's military and police academies, reported local media.

The female students' chants called on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to interfere and make a swift decision regarding their demands.

According to Egypt's 1948 National Conscription Law, only Egyptian men with a male sibling are subject to conscription. If they have no male siblings, or if they have dual citizenship, they are exempt from military service.

In August, the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity approved a controversial law stipulating that all graduates of both genders, including males who were exempt from compulsory military service, must perform public service duty for one year.

The law assigns graduates to work in the sectors of illiteracy elimination, census, family projects, development, childcare services, orphan care, and elderly care, as well as other fields, based on the needs of each governorate.
Why don't we benefit from Egyptian women who want to fight their country's enemies and are perfectly capable of doing so?
- Hagar Mohamed Ibrahim

However, Hagar Mohamed Ibrahim, the movement's coordinator at Cairo University, told Rassd News Network that the aim behind Thursday's gathering was to protest against the public service law, demanding military service instead.

"We have seen other Arab countries recruit women in the army," said Ibrahim, "so why don't we benefit from Egyptian women - who want to fight their country's enemies and are perfectly capable of doing so?

"I am not saying we will fight in Sinai or on the frontlines," she added, "I mean we want to serve in the back rows to support our country's men."

Nehal Reda, another member of the campaign group, said that some of the movement's representatives had met with former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, as well as other officials, to submit their proposal.

"They all liked our proposal and said it was under consideration," said Reda. "But we still have not received any responses."

"Officials are ignoring and marginalising us," she added. "We want someone to respond to us and meet our demands."

Reda added that the number of members in the movement, which was established last year, had reached 35,000 women from across the country.