Cairo: Egyptian women will be allowed to join boards of major mosques across the country for the first time, religious authorities have said, as the country is struggling against violent militancy.
There will be two women on the board of each mosque with the aim of boosting attention to issues related to females, children and the family in religious work, said an official at the Ministry of Waqfs that is responsible for mosques in Egypt.
“Greater attention will be given to family issues that were not strongly represented at mosques before,” Shaikh Jaber Taya, the spokesman for the ministry said.
Women on boards will act as a link between the female faithful and the mosque administration. “They will deal with the women praying in the female section of the mosque, but they will not be authorized to issue fatwas [religious edicts] or talk about religious issues,” Taya said in media remarks.
Around 70 per cent of mosques in Egypt have separate prayer areas for women, according to official figures.
Taya added that the number of female preachers delivering sermons to women worshippers at mosques will be increased. “This comes as part of a new strategy adopted by the ministry focusing on the family and women aspects.”
Last year, the Egyptian government licensed more than 140 Muslim female preachers to offer religious lessons to women, ending decades of male monopoly of the field.
In 2013, the army, then led by incumbent President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power following massive protests against its one-year rule.
Egyptian authorities have since sought to tighten grip on mosques across the nation, denying the now-outlawed Brotherood and its allies a major platform to influence worshippers.
On several occasions, Al Sissi has called on Muslim scholars to reform religious teachings in order to help the state in fighting radicalism.