Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi instructed the Egyptian government to empower women and to fight physical and psychological violence against women during a speech on Saturday.
He was speaking at a ceremony organised by the National Council for Women to celebrate Egyptian women and ideal mothers.
In his speech, the president praised the Egyptian government's current efforts to combat violence against women, while also instructing them to fight both physical and psychological violence against women.
He also said that early marriage and depriving women of their legal rights in divorce were another example of violence against women.
“I task the government to draft suitable legislation to protect women practically from all the shapes of moral and physical violence, taking into consideration that underage marriage, deprivation of education and not receiving alimony in the case of divorce are different forms of violence," he said.
El-Sisi also gave the government a directive to provide a suitable atmosphere for women to find proper job opportunities as well to fight the growing problem of women ending up in prison due to failing to pay their debts.
The presidency, the government and civil society have all launched initiatives to pay the debts of women jailed for owing money.
El-Sisi also stated that he was looking forward to the implantation of the Mowada (“cordiality”) programme, which was launched by the president in February and aims to lower divorce rates.
He also gave a directive to the government to work on issuing a new personal status law.
The National Council for Women revealed in February that is was working on a new draft law governing family law, commonly called personal status law in Middle Eastern countries.
In his speech, the president also said women should be enabled to participate more in politics, and said there should be a quote for women MPs.
He also called for helping and supporting mothers to achieve financial inclusion, and for amending the current public service law in order to allow more Egyptian girls to be qualified for employment in the public sector.
Before the president's speech, Minister of Planning Hala El-Saeed hailed the role of Egyptian women through history, in her address at the event.
"We have 57 percent female students, 55 percent female faculty members, 27 percent of women who benefit from financial services and 21 percent unemployment among women," said El-Saeed, adding that these figures reflect women’s empowerment in Egyptian society.
She said this was the lowest ever unemployment rate among women in Egypt.
El-Saeed also said that two million Egyptian women have benefited from the government’s social solidarity programmes Takaful and Karama.
Launched in 2015, the twin programmes support impoverished families with school-aged children, the elderly and people with special needs, mainly in Upper Egypt.
During the celebration, El-Sisi honoured a number of widows from across the country for their role in “supporting their families and building society.”
He has also honoured a number of prominent women for their leading role in “building the Egyptian community”, such as Egyptian politician and former head of the National Council for Women Mervat Tallawy and physician Nihal Abdel Moneim who inaugurated the first children’s eye centre in Alexandria.
The ceremony was attended by the president’s wife Entissar El-Sisi, as well as Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali, and a number of other officials and ministers.
The celebration was organised by the National Council for Women, in cooperation with the social solidarity ministry.
It was held at Al-Manara International Conference Centre in New Cairo.