A flicker of hope for women across Egypt may have been sparked on Friday, after the first female to head a political party in the country was elected.
Breaking through Egypt's political glass ceiling, Hala Shukrallah succeeded former Egyptian Vice President Mohammad ElBaradei to become the Constitution Party’s president.
And her win not only represents women, who are a minority in Egyptian politics; she is also a Coptic Christian, a community that makes up 10 around percent of the country’s population.
Shukrallah, the founding member of the party, won 108 out of 189 votes, reported Egyptian daily al-Ahram, in the party’s first elections for the position of chairmanship.
Shukrallah’s two opponents, former TV host Gamila Ismail and physician Hossam Abdel-Ghafar - both also founding members - took 57 and 23 votes respectively. Two votes were spoilt.
Party member Sayed Kassem had been acting as its interim chief since July.
Party of youth
Earlier on Friday, ElBaradei congratulated members of the party’s first general conference.
In a speech at the conference, read by Kassem, ElBaradei called on youth to learn from their mistakes and to maintain hope due to the fact that they “do not hold private agendas.”
“I pay tribute to the young men and women, the party rose by youth and will arise by youth. The road is open before you after being closed for 60 years, do not lose hope and goal,” the speech continued.
In a Twitter message also posted on Friday, ElBaradei said: “To the youth of the Constitution and the Revolution: You are now the light in the darkness of lies, ignorance, extremism and tyranny. Join the ranks, recover the values and use yours mind.”
ElBaradei resigned as party head when he was appointed vice president following the ouster of Egypt’s former Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in July last year.
Just one month later, he resigned as vice president after the bloody dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp which left hundreds of pro-Mursi supporters dead.
After his brief vice presidential tenure, ElBaradei now works as a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Since ElBaradei resigned from the Constitution Party, the group has seen public divisions and mass resignations.
Major disputes have occurred over the appointment, rather than election, of the party's current senior leaders.
The party had one garnered support when it was founded by ElBaradei after the 2011 revolution which toppled Egypt’s former strongman President Hosni Mubarak from power.
ElBaradei then refused to run for the 2012 presidential elections, saying that a constitution needs to be in place first to define the role of the coming leader.