For the first time in Egypt’s history a Coptic Christian woman has been appointed as provincial governor.

The new governor of Damietta, Dr. Manal Awad Mikhael, is also the second female governor ever to be appointed in Egypt, reports the BBC.

Mikhael, 51, was sworn in by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Friday (24 August).

In her previous position as deputy governor of Giza governorate she “was responsible for the development of disadvantaged communities”, according to news site Egyptian Streets.

A Coptic man was also appointed governor at the same time. President Sisi replaced 22 of Egypt’s 27 regional governors, including in Sinai, where the military is currently conducting a major operation against jihadist fighters who have specifically targeted the Coptic community.

Egypt’s Copts account for around 10 per cent of the population and have come under increased pressure since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

As World Watch Monitor has reported, they also face attacks by Islamist groups and are targeted by mobs of local Muslims who protest the presence of their churches in villages around the country.