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UN Women Egypt’s activities highly aligned to national priorities, Blerta Aliko tells Ahram Online

In the third of a series of UN interviews, Ahram Online speaks to the country representative of UN Women on the role of the country office in supporting women's empowerment and rights in Egypt

Ahram Online, Thursday 18 Oct 2018
UN Women
UN Women Egypt’s activities highly aligned to national priorities, Blerta Aliko (Photo: UN)
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UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry of the UN Charter into force in 1945. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.

On the occasion of the celebration of the UN Day on 24 October, the UN offered a series of exclusive interviews to Ahram Online.

The third Interview in the series is with Blerta Aliko, UN Women country representative.

In what priority areas does UN Women Egypt's country office work?

UN Women has a tripartite mandate: advancing normative work on gender equality and the empowerment of women, coordination, and operational support. UN Women Egypt has been reinforcing national efforts to facilitate policy dialogues between government, civil society organisations, academia, and supporting national implementation on women’s leadership and participation, economic inclusion and freedom from violence against women.

How are UN Women Egypt's activities integrated with the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS)?

UN Women Egypt’s work and activities are highly aligned and responsive to national priorities. All the work is aligned with the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030, which was endorsed by the president of Egypt and complements the SDS. In addition, UN Women Egypt enjoys a strong partnership with the government of Egypt and is a proud partner of key national institutions, including the National Council for Women, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Solidarity, the Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform, among other academic and research institutions, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

How are UN Women Egypt's activities aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UN Partnership for Development (UNPDF)?

UN Women is privileged to coordinate the women’s empowerment outcome result area of the UNPDF on behalf of the United Nations. All activities that are pertinent to women’s empowerment, which are supported by relevant UN agencies͟͟͟ ― including UN Women ― fall under this outcome result area and are centred around the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030. In addition, gender equality and the empowerment of women is mainstreamed across the other outcome result areas of the UNPDF, to which UN Women is also a contributor.

Tell us more about the main achievements of the UN Women Egypt country office.
UN Women Egypt has contributed to many of the accomplishments on the women’s empowerment agenda, in partnership with the National Council for Women. These accomplishments include the issuance of 713,571 national ID cards for women under the Women’s Citizenship Initiative (WCI) and the highest and fastest outreach to 2,000,000 women on the ground through the ‘Knocking Door Campaigns’ to catalyse action on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

UN Women Egypt has also provided support to the legislation development process through sharing good practices at the regional level, facilitating the inclusion of civil society and other actors, as well as providing technical expertise. Furthermore, UN Women supported the establishment of the Egypt National Observatory for Women (ENOW), that can monitor and track public policies from a gender perspective, gathering empirical evidence to inform future governmental policies.

UN Women Egypt has also supported the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) programmes, benefiting 18,844 members, 92 per cent of which are very poor women. Combined with loans and training on social empowerment and financial literacy, the VSLA programme resulted increasing women’s confidence and engaging in income-generating employment and decision-making processes.

UN Women Egypt has further supported the leveraging of 10 private agribusiness firms in rural areas to invest in women’s employment through gender-responsive work environments, benefitting over 5,000 women and their families, while multiplying the firms’ revenues, and while retaining their trained women workforce.

Stemming from the conviction that it is critical to engage men and boys to achieve gender equality, UN Women Egypt launched the ‘International Men and Gender Equality Survey’ (IMAGES). The survey is considered one of the most comprehensive household surveys carried out on men’s attitudes and practices — along with women’s opinions and reports of men’s practices — on a wide variety of topics related to gender equality.

UN Women Egypt also supported the launch of ‘Because I’m a Man’ social media campaign, which attracted the attention of millions of online followers, including endorsements by renowned and influential celebrities.

How will UN Women Egypt address obstacles to further progress?

UN Women Egypt enjoys an open dialogue with the government of Egypt and relevant stakeholders, which offers an opportunity to discuss common challenges and how to further garner collective support to address challenges that hinder the advancement of women at all levels. The National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030 is the first global strategy to address the empowerment of women in response to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to ensure that no woman is left behind.

UN Women Egypt fully supports the operationalisation of the strategy and has contributed to supporting the National Council for Women in the design of work packages, which aim at operationalising the strategy to achieve its intended objectives. UN Women Egypt further supports all national advocacy efforts to raise awareness at all levels about barriers to women’s empowerment and the needed action to address them.

What initiatives do you hope to accomplish?

UN Women Egypt has an ambitious strategic note for 2018-2022 and aspires to support national efforts in the areas of women’s leadership and participation, women’s economic inclusion, and preventing violence against women and girls. UN Women Egypt also hopes to engage as many men and boys in the national efforts to empower women and girls, besides educating communities about women’s political, economic, and social rights and the associated perceptions of gender roles.

UN Women Egypt will support the translation of constitutional commitments and hopes to witness more women in leadership and decision-making positions, and to have more than 25,000 of Egypt’s capable women and youth occupying local councils seats. Among our objectives is to also expand on the issuance of national ID cards for women to ensure that more women in Egypt can practice their citizenship rights.

UN Women Egypt aspires to contribute to fostering an environment that is free of violence through supporting national efforts towards a strong legislation on ending violence against women in Egypt, with implementation mechanisms that guarantee its enforcement.

Last, but not least, UN Women Egypt will champion the creation of opportunities for the economic inclusion of women to ensure their employability and working with relevant partners and stakeholders on fostering the principles of decent work and non-discrimination in the workplace.

UN Women is privileged to continue to support all national efforts towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, as stated by the UN Women executive director, on both the premise and promise of the 2030 Agenda and its global goals, seeking equality for all.

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