Nearly 100 women have become the first female judges to join Egypt’s State Council, one of the country’s main judicial bodies, the Associated Press reported.

The 98 women were sworn in before the council’s chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, in a celebratory event in Cairo, the country’s capital.

The swearing-in came months after President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi asked for women to join the State Council and the Public Prosecution, the two judicial bodies that until recently were exclusively male.

Hossam el-Din welcomed the new judges, saying: “They are an important addition to the State Council.”

Some of the judges said they were happy that the dreams of earlier generations of women had finally come true.

“This is a memorable day. It is a dream for us and for past generations as well,” said Radwa Helmy, one of the newly sworn-in justices. “Being a woman in one of the chief judiciary institutions in Egypt and the Arab world was a dream.”

El-Sissi’s decision in March was applauded by many women’s rights activists. Egypt’s National Council for Women said at the time that the move represented a political will to further empower women.

Established in 1946, the State Council is an independent judicial body that mainly handles administrative disputes, disciplinary cases and appeals. It also reviews draft laws, decisions and contracts to which the government or a government-run body is a party.

The council had repeatedly rejected women applicants. In recent years, many women challenged council decisions, arguing that they were discriminated against.

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