CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s cabinet reshuffle brought in only a handful new faces, but for the first time in the history of the country, they included a veiled woman.
Aisha Abdul Hadi was appointed labour and immigration minister in the government of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif that was sworn in on Saturday.
The arrival of the first veiled woman in government came after the country’s December parliamentary polls, which saw the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, who won 20 percent of the seats in the 454-strong assembly.
She dons a headscarf designed to cover just the hair, as opposed to the veil used by more conservative Muslim women to cover the hair, shoulders and chest or the niqab which is a full veil that covers the body from head to toe.
Abdul Hadi, a member of the ruling National Democratic Party, is a veteran trade unionist who began her career in 1959 as a representative for workers in state-owned pharmaceutical company.
She rose through the ranks, becoming vice chairperson of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation, a position she held until her appointment to the cabinet.
Only four women were elected in the December polls that were marred by violence and allegations of voting fraud.
President Hosni Mubarak appointed five more women in exercise of powers the constitution grants him to appoint 10 MPs.