Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat has revealed that Egypt is executing 34 projects, worth $3.3 billion, that tackle the gender equality issue and aim to help women engage more in the Egyptian economy.
The top targeted sectors through these projects are health, education, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), constituting 20 percent, 14 percent, and 15 percent respectively. They represent direct investments in building human capital, where women are among the main beneficiaries, Al-Mashat said in a statement.
The minister added that the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator, which the ministry launched in July in order to deal with gender inequality, saw the participation of over 80 participants from the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), USAID, the United Nations and its agencies, in addition to the embassies of the UK, Canada, China, Korea, the US, Germany and France, among others.
The accelerator, which is a virtual platform, was launched in association with Egypt’s National Council for Women and the World Economic Forum as an action aimed at reinforcing Egypt’s sustainable development goals agenda, especially with the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
The platform brings together the international community and all stakeholders to ensure sustained commitment in achieving Goal 5 (Gender Equality) of the 17 Sustainable Developments Goals set by the UN, so that all efforts are upscaled and coordinated with the purpose of creating real impact on the lives of women through development cooperation, the ministry said in a statement.
Al-Mashat said that the accelerator is a public private collaboration platform that helps governments and businesses take decisive actions on closing economic gender gaps.
“We want to achieve a real impact in the economic participation of women in the economy, consistent with the objectives of the accelerator. Though there are so many projects happening on ground, the accelerator program will act as an international benchmark to help ensure that all efforts are coordinated and upscaled,” according to Al-Mashat.
“To ensure better results, the accelerator creates a structure for all stakeholders to engage in three stages, including to initiate projects, facilitate discussions to prioritise actions according to key objectives, and measure impact according to defined targets and metrics before final approval. A key element is to support the private sector in playing a prominent role in formulating initiatives that can help increase women’s inclusion in the sector,” she added.
President of the National Council for Women Maya Morsy said that the accelerator adopts a full-fledged program that aims at engaging all development partners; helping understand shaping innovative pathways for growth towards gender parity.
“The program includes legislation and culture as cross-cutting pillars, as well as social empowerment, protection, and political empowerment. While economic empowerment is considered to be the main pillar, creating a safe environment in the world of work for women is vital to help achieve this,” she said.
Representatives of the World Economic Forum emphasised that Egypt provided a unique example that was provided within a knowledge network, adding that Egypt is the first country in the region to adopt such an action.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt Cristina Albertin stressed that UN Egypt is fully committed to supporting the Ministry of International Cooperation and the National Council for Women in the rollout of the first Gender Gap Accelerator in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Egyptian women represent 50 percent of the population. Removing legal and social barriers, through partnerships under the accelerator, will have direct impact on women’s active participation in the economy and hence growth and poverty reduction in Egypt,” said Robert Bou Jaoude, World Bank Operations Manager for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.