Educated in Cairo. When she attended college, she first studied literature at Cairo University, but transferred to law after only a week of studies. Rateb graduated from Cairo University in 1949, went briefly to Paris for further education and then received her PhD in law in 1955.
Only woman in President Sadat’s cabinet. Her political eminence has nothing to do with symbolising equality of opportunity for women. It is sheer merit, the outcome of a distinguished academic career full of "firsts”—first woman lecturer in law at Cairo University, first woman appointed Professor of Law, and first woman from Egypt to head a delegation at international conferences. She is very active in the Arab Socialist Union and is a vigorous propagandist for greater participation by women in politics and public affairs.
As a junior lecturer at Cairo University she began post-graduate research which took her to Paris in 1951. She gained her PhD from Cairo University for her thesis on “The individual and International Law”. In 1955 she went to Geneva for further research into the legal problems of neutrality. In 1957 she was appointed lecturer in international law at Cairo University and rose to be Professor of International Law. Apart from writing many articles she has travelled to international seminars and conferences on law.
After joining the government as Minister of Social Affairs she drew up proposals in January 1972 suggesting the enlistment of women into the army. She recommended that it would enable women to share the burden of defending the homelands with one million men in uniform and would be proof of equal opportunities for women in a modernised Egypt.
At the reshuffle of the cabinet on January 17, 1972, she was one of only nine survivors retained because of her specialist knowledge. She kept her portfolio on March 27, 1973, when another reshuffle occurred at the downfall of Aziz Sidki. On March 29, 1973, she was appointed chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee, one of six special organisations created by the new cabinet.
She was married and had two children.