It was not until this month (February 2017) that Egypt got its first female governor in Nadia Ahmed Abdou Saleh. The most populous north African country had never before elected a woman to serve as governor. The furthest women got politically was the deputy governor post.
This is despite the fact that south of the Sahara, women have climbed the political ladder and successfully risen to the presidency. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Malawi’s Joyce Banda quickly come to mind.
In conservative Egypt, the presidency looks a far shot for now but a glass ceiling for the governorship has successfully been shattered. Here are a few facts about the history-making governor.
1. She was appointed a governor of the Baheira Governorate located in the Nile Delta in the country’s far north. Governors are appointed by the President – in this case, President Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi.
2. She previously held the post of deputy governor in 2013 – she was appointed for her role in development and innovation.
3. A product of the Alexandria University, Nadia graduated from the faculty of Engineering and Chemistry in 1965. She also holds a masters in Health Engineering from the same institution.
4. For a decade (2002 – 2012) she was head of the country’s Holding Company for Water and Wastewater.
5. Her political career started 7 years ago when she won a parliamentary seat on the ticket of the now-defunct National Democratic Party (NDP).
6. Her party was dissolved a year after she joined. The NDP were implicated in issues relating to poll rigging, it led to the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
7. She founded the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA) and is a member of the World Water Council.
8. She has two sons who took after her academically – both graduates of the same faculty.
9. Her Governorate holds great religious significance as it is home to a number of the most important Coptic monasteries in one of its cities, Wadi El Natrun
10. Baheira’s capital is Damanhur, it has 13 other cities, and houses important industries such as cotton, chemicals, carpets, electricity and fishing.
Egypt has a total of twenty-seven governorates. Governorates are the top tier of the country’s jurisdiction hierarchy. A governorate is administered by a governor, who is appointed by the President of Egypt and serves at the president’s discretion.
According to population estimates of Baheira, from 2015 the majority of residents in the governorate live in rural areas, with an urbanization rate of only 19.5%.
Out of an estimated 5.8 million people residing in the governorate, 4.6 million live in rural areas as opposed to only 1.1 million in urban areas.