Dr. Susan Saad Zaghloul’s candidacy for parliamentary elections, in the first instance, unfortunately coincided with the 2010 Egyptian elections fraud fiasco. At the time, she ran for the women’s quota seat in Egypt's port city of Suez. However, state-sponsored fraud, in favor of National Party candidates, worked against her and all opposition in the Parliament of 2010. That did not last. Less than two months later, the January 25 revolution promptly brought about the ‘untimely’ demise of both the National Party and its fake parliament. When Dr. Zaghloul ran for the Shura Council (SC) ‘Individuals’ seat, again in the city of Suez, in the 2012 elections, she won the confidence of the people. Thus she proved the 2010 elections forgery, unequivocally. Moreover, she was the only woman to win an ‘Individuals’ seat in the People’s Assembly (PA) and the SC. Even before that, Dr. Susan Zaghloul won the Ideal Modern Mother award, in Suez, in 2007.
The world of research is a big part of Dr. Zaghloul’s life. After her graduation from the Faculty of Science, with honors, she held a research job at the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Suez. In 1996, she obtained a Master's degree in science, and then a Doctorate in Philosophy of science in 2004. Her scientific and social career continued on with membership of the Egyptian Syndicate of Scientific Professions in Suez, and participation in many programs and initiatives to protect the Egyptian coastline from pollution.
In this interview, Dr. Susan Saad Zaghloul opens her heart and tells the "Freedom and Justice" newspaper all about the circumstances of her candidacy to the SC and her vision for the development of scientific research and Egyptian laws pertaining to women and the family:
FJN: Why did you join the race for the SC seat, this time, though you were a candidate for the PA in 2010?
Dr. Susan Zaghloul: You seem to subscribe to the common misunderstanding that the SC is merely a ‘council of compliments’ with no real powers, which is a totally erroneous assumption resulting from the marginalization of the SC’s role during the defunct former regime. In fact, the SC is one of the oldest legislative parliament houses in Egypt. It specializes in examining and proposing laws that fulfill the needs of Egyptian society through deep analysis of problems and lives of the Egyptian citizen, in all fields including high moral values, principles, freedoms, rights and duties.
Moreover, no Constitutional amendment proposals can be passed without the SC’s approval. The same applies to laws complementary to the Constitution, peace treaties and alliances. Also, the SC has a say in the drafting of the general plan of development and draft laws (bills) referred to it by the President of the Republic. So, I ran for the SC seat because of my conviction of its role and the need to restore this role for it during the current stage of Egypt’s history.
FJN: What's your impression of the first sessions of the new parliament?
Dr. Susan Zaghloul: The first sessions, so far, promise a productive, effective and successful parliamentary term – all for the benefit of the nation – due to the solid consensus and harmony that have already emerged amongst all members.
FJN: What role are you going to assume, and how will it differ from the roles of your colleagues in parliament?
Dr. Susan Zaghloul: My most important role will pertain to laws and legislation on scientific research, because that is one of the most important pillars of development and construction of a new and civilized society – and that is what we need to make every effort to achieve in the next phase of this homeland’s march towards stability, security, scientific and economic progress.
By virtue of its nature as a Council of Elders, expertise and experience, the SC needs to have specialized members in a variety of matters and subjects; and because I work in the field of scientific research, I have an extensively well-informed view on this area.
FJN: What are the main projects and initiatives you have for the development of scientific research?
Dr. Susan Zaghloul: Scientific research does not need to be developed; it needs to be demolished, then rebuilt from scratch, including all levels and departments etc. I will submit projects for a complete restructuring of the research system, particularly within specialized centers supposedly responsible for scientific research in Egypt. They need to be cleansed of corruption which has spread and prevailed, and halted their progress. However, the main reason for their downright failure is the minimal budget allocated to them and the very limited resources made available to researchers.
As for research workers specifically, we will develop new plans to allow them access to all research, and to participate in conferences and join international missions and training, which should make them abreast with the world around them. So, we would take bold strides forward, instead of always falling behind.
FJN: Being an SC deputy, how are you going to deal with laws pertaining to women and the family?
Dr. Susan Zaghloul: Most previous legislation pertaining to women sought to punish men, as it granted women more rights, as if there were deep hostilities between the sexes. That produced legislation that did not fit with our values, ideals, our beliefs, our customs and traditions. This resulted in the disintegration of the family, and then the loss of the entire society. What is required, now, is a comprehensive review of all legislation, all laws that have been passed during the past few years, which will have to be re-formulated to help maintain the integrity of the Egyptian family in an atmosphere of understanding, cooperation and complementarity between men and women, without either party infringing on the rights of the other, in light of the provisions of Islamic law.
FJN: What about your family, and your two young sons, after you were elected member of parliament?
Dr. Susan Zaghloul: My entire family has evidently come along with me to the SC. They all travel with me to Cairo, and return with me in the evening, unless we have several successive sessions, in which case the family is divided between Cairo and Suez. My younger son – in high school – stays in Suez with his father, while my eldest son, a university student, stays with me here.
FJN: What do you think women's representation in the Constituent Assembly should be? And what role can they play?
Dr. Susan Zaghloul: Women must have a role and representation in the Constituent Assembly of the constitution, because they should be better at proposing relevant legislation, since they are ‘half of the society’ and contribute to raising the other half. Women, the sisters of men, must not be marginalized in new constitutional legislation, in line with Islamic law which ensured women freedom and independence in an unprecedented way.