Last week saw Magdy al-Beteity, governor of Beni-Sweif some 100km south of Cairo issue a decision to appoint Sharbat Taha Hassan deputy to the head of the local government of Nasser town. So far the news appears nothing out of the ordinary,
except for the fact that the move corrects a gross injustice inflicted on Ms Hassan less than a year ago by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood regime which was then in power in Egypt.
In May last year Ms Hassan had been for three years head of the local government of the village of Dalaass in Beni Sweif and, in view of her excellent performance, it was time for a promotion. Instead, and in a move that caught not only her but all her colleagues at Dalaass by surprise, she was moved from her job to the lower administrative post of head of public relations—an obvious demotion. The decision, issued by the then Beni Sweif governor Maher Beibars, created a burst of anger among a great number of Beni Sweif residents, and most especially among women. Ms Hassan was apparently demoted for no reason other than being a woman, and not being a member in the then ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
The governor had actually promoted Ms Hassan to head the local government of Ashmant, a bigger and more senior village than Dalaass. Once the local Islamists took wind of that, they applied blatant pressure on Mr Beibars to retract on the promotion, insisting they would not accept that any woman should be placed in charge of their affairs.
Dalaass residents, especially the women among them, were outraged. Ms Hassan had to her credit a splendid reputation for being competent, dedicated, and compassionate. Among her achievements was the development and upgrading of the Dalaass local government headquarters, its fire fighting unit, and the slaughterhouse. She had established a garage for the department’s vehicles and utilities, and secured the supply of machinery for agricultural, garbage collection, and various civic works. She had also ordered the replacement and overhaul of a 5km-long stretch of the village water pipes. Two new schools were established under her in Dalaass.
Ms Hassan had then taken her case to the National Council for Human Rights and the national Council for Women. But it is obvious she was only given her rightful position after the Islamists were no longer in power. Following her recent promotion, she can finally breathe freely and “get down to work”.
12 January 2014