On October 30th, 2020, Dr. Farkhonda Hassan, one of the most influential women in contemporary Egyptian history passed at the age of 90. Hassan was one of Egypt’s most renowned advocates for women’s rights for the past five decades. She previously served as Secretary-General for the National Council for Women. Also, she was a member of the Gender Advisory Board of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development.
Farkhonda Hassan was very vocal about gender equality in government as well as many other fields such as education, scientific research, and public service. She believed that women had many constitutional rights that were unfortunately not accessible to them in reality. Thus, she believed that more women should be in positions that would make that possible. Hassan called for more seats for women in parliament in order for them to be part of the process of the development of laws that would serve both genders. As there is no reason why a parliament that is almost exclusive to men and has a very small percentage of women would produce gender-equal laws.
4 Things Farkhonda Hassan Changed for Women in Egypt
She paved the way for women in Science.
Farkhonda Hassan was one of the first women in Egypt to pursue a career in Geology and succeed in it. She was also a member of the Gender Advisory Board of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development. Moreover, that reinstated the importance of having a place for women in those fields. In addition to having been a successful professor of Geology for years, she has taught many generations. Also, Hassan has broken the stereotype that STEM fields are more male-oriented.
She paved the way for women in Parliament.
Elected as a member of parliament within the 30 seats former president Anwar Sadat had allocated for women in 1979. Farkhonda Hassan proved to be one of the most influential women in parliament. She worked tirelessly on many environmental issues, which was not common at the time. Particularly, the environmental impact of building on stone vs. sand and pollution of the Nile. Also, reforming of Worker’s Union laws, proving the undeniable influence of women in such positions.
She helped the rural Egyptian woman.
Before the year 2000, there was no such thing as the NCW. Rather, there was only a smaller entity under the name of The National Committee for Women founded by Jehan El Sadat in 1979. Farkhonda Hassan was a part of the entity that aided women in the village of Mit Abul Kom, Menoufiya, among other areas with no source of electricity. She helped in providing them with sustainable sources of heat and electricity. Such as; solar panels and biogas made out of animal waste.
Farkhonda Hassan was a founding member of the National Council for Women.
The NCW, founded by the efforts of many women including Farkhonda Hassan in 2000; has had the largest impact on women’s rights and empowerment ever since its establishment. They’ve now opened over 14 branches all over Egypt that have worked on women’s empowerment and the development of their living conditions in every way; socially, economically, and educationally. As of March 2020, it has managed to introduce over 14 bills that have passed as laws that serve not only women but families in Egypt. Additionally, mostly due to the efforts of the NCW, there are now 90 allocated seats for women in parliament.