“The merciful heart of the revolution,” a title given by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser to Hikmat Abu Zaid, the first Egyptian woman to be named a minister when she was appointed as the Minister of Social Affairs in 1962.
Fifty-six years later, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail appointed two new female ministers in the cabinet reshuffle, Rania al-Mashat as Minister of Tourism, and Enas Abdel Dayem as Minister of Culture.
Ismail’s cabinet thus become the first Egyptian cabinet to boast six female ministers, making up 17.6 percent of all present ministers.
One of the two new members of the cabinet, Abdel Dayem, obtained a bachelor’s degree from the Cairo Conservatoire. She was appointed as Egypt’s Minister for Culture in Sunday’s reshuffle.
Abdel Dayem had been the dean of the Cairo Conservatoire since 2004 and has been the director of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra since 2003 until now. She is also the head of the department of woodwind instruments at Cairo Conservatoire. On top of all that, she served as chairperson of Cairo Opera House in 2012 until Sunday, a glittering career making her a worthy candidate for the role.
Mashat obtained a master’s and doctorate degrees in economics from the University of Maryland, and Park College. The prominent economist went on to become the Vice Head of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
Following the appointment of Tariq Amer as Governor of the CBE, she left the bank and joined the Internationals Monetary Fund (IMF), becoming a chief economic adviser for the institution.
She was appointed as the tourism minister in Sunday’s reshuffle.
Chairman of the National Council for Women, Maya Morsi, expressed great pleasure at the inclusion of two additional female ministers in the cabinet reshuffle. She pointed to them as evidence that women can succeed in any field, and encouraging enhanced confidence in the abilities of Egyptian women from the political administration.
Morsi labelled Abdel Dayem’s appointment as culture minister as a “great success” for the National Council for Women, because she is an active member of the Council. Morsi hoped that more Council members come to hold important positions, in order to increase the representation of women in the decision-making process.
Chairwoman of the Egyptian Feminist Union, Hoda Badran, said that the representation of women in the Egyptian Cabinet is a positive step, and called for increasing the representation of women to one-third of the cabinet in the future.
She praised the selection of Abdel Dayem and Mashat as culture and tourism ministers, describing the choice as based on “real criteria,” dependant on candidates’ knowledge and efficiency.
Choosing a tourism minister with an economic background will contribute to the developing a new plan for the revitalization of economy through tourism, she added.
She hoped a female education minister will be appointed next.
Before the reshuffle, the cabinet already had Investment Minister Sahar Nasr, Planning Minister Hala al-Saeed, Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly, and Immigration Minister Nabila Makram in its ranks.
Born in 1964, Investment Minister Nasr went on to obtain a bachelor degree in Economics from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in 1985, and a master’s degree in Economics in 1990. She was appointed as investment minister in October 2015.
Planning Minister Saeed obtained a Bachelor of Economics from the Faculty of Political Science and Economics at Cairo University, in 1978. She has been in office since February 2017.
Waly obtained a Master of Arts and Humanities degree from Cairo University in 1980. She also obtained a BA from the Faculty of Languages and Literature, Cairo University, in 1977. She was appointed as the Minister of Solidarity since former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahalb’s cabinet in February 2014.
Finally, Makram obtained a BA in Economics and Political Science from Cairo University in 1991, and was appointed as immigration minister in September 2015.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm