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Can a woman be Egypt’s next president?

Bothaina Kamel is defying the odds by running for Egypt's presidency
Egypt female president bothaina kamel 12 02 11Enlarge
Egyptian presidential hopeful Bothaina Kamel speaks to a crowd at a rally in Mahalla, in the country's lush northern Delta region. (JON JENSEN/GlobalPost)

Egypt’s election results are not scheduled to come out for several hours, but two of the country’s Islamist political parties already believe that they will each win a major plurality in the future parliament.

The country's largest Islamist group, the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, announced this week that it will win at least 40 percent of the vote.

Now, some Egyptian women are voicing concern about the possibility of an Islamist takeover in the country’s parliament.

"I hope they don't impose the veil and ban women from driving like in Saudi Arabia," one Egyptian woman, Naglaa Fahmi, told AFP.

Another Islamist party hoping to win big, the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour party, was initially reluctant to include women on their campaign ticket, according to Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar English:

As part of its electoral campaign the Salafist party al-Nour distributed a poster with the image of a rose instead of the face of their female candidate. The party told the public that the candidate wears the niqab (full face veil), so it would have been useless to have her photo on the poster.

Al-Nour party had already voiced religious objections to running female candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, they relented to include female candidates in their list because the new electoral law mandates that party slates must contain at least one woman candidate.

However the Salafist party listed the names of its female candidates at the very bottom of the slate, reducing their chances of winning a seat in parliament.

Against this backdrop, one Egyptian woman is making an historic run in the country's first post-Mubarak presidential election, scheduled for mid-2012.

Of course, not many in Egypt believe that Bothaina Kamel's odds of winning are very high.  But that's not her only goal.  

Here's Common Grounds:

It would be silly to think that she has a chance of winning the elections, but this is not what she is striving to prove. Kamel is an important symbol of what is possible, allowing for future generations of young women to dream of holding the country’s highest political office.

Kamel, like all Egyptian women, are fully aware of the obstacles and challenges that come from a society that is not entirely accustomed to strong female politicians and expects a “strong male” president to lead this critical transition. Though Egypt has a legacy of resilient female advocates, businesswomen, and leaders, Kamel exemplifies a new wave of female politicians that can understand what the street needs and strive to balance those demands with the political system.

Watch our take on Bothaina Kamel's revolutionary run:  

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/can-woman-be-egypt’s-next-president