The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has launched a new advisory programme to improve women’s employment opportunities in the Egyptian market through highlighting how private sector companies can tap into the country’s large, under-utilised female talent pool and spur economic growth.
In cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation, the IFC said the new programme is critical, especially with the Egypt’s National Council for Women announcement that the Covid-19 crisis poses a serious threat to women’s engagement in economic activities in Egypt.
"The participation of women is macro-critical, it is no longer lip service. All stakeholders from the public and private sector as well as international financial institutions (IFIs) are coming together to progress towards gender parity, as we see its quantifiable impact on GDP, productivity and as a catalyst to push the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals forward. We are proud that Egypt is the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch the ‘Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator’, a private-public platform for collaboration to reach gender parity, with the World Economic Forum,” Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat said.
Meanwhile, the IFC’s country manager for Egypt, Libya and Yemen, Walid Labadi, stated that creating economic opportunities for women in Egypt is a strategic priority for the IFC, adding that private sector companies are starting to realise the potential of the female workforce to overcome skill and talent shortages and boost economic growth.
“More flexible, remote and family-friendly working arrangements benefit companies and support both their female and male employees," according to Labadi.
In early March, the IFC announced up to $8 billion of financing globally to support businesses affected by the pandemic with an aim of supporting economic sectors directly affected by the outbreak, especially the private sector.
It announced that Egypt is a country of priority for the IFC and it is considering businesses opportunities in the country to invest in.
The IFC’s support focuses on three areas, including providing $2 billion to bolster the IFC’s existing clients in sectors like manufacturing, agribusiness, and healthcare, to help them keep jobs and weather the Covid-19 crisis, earmarking $2 billion to encourage cross-border trade to maintain essential goods flowing between countries, in addition to providing $4 billion to emerging-market banks, allowing them to ramp up lending to businesses, which need working capital to pay their bills and employees’ salaries amid the crisis.