As part of a series of events celebrating the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) 100th anniversary, the AUC held a lecture at Euwart hall on Wednesday to honour the memory of Nadia Younes, who was tragically killed in a bombing in Iraq in 2003 while serving as chief-of-staff to UN diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Mello.
The primary speaker at the event, Nemat Shafik, director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), gave a lecture titled ‘Global Leadership in a Changing World,’ focusing mainly on women’s empowerment, social mobility, quality of education, leadership and management, as well as other economic local and global developments.
Shafik said that children’s access to nutrition, basic human interaction and education are essential to restoring social mobility and achieving positive economic change.
"I strongly believe talent is spread evenly around the world, but opportunity is not," Shafik said.
"Many economic and development problems today in Egypt exist due to the facts that success in Egypt is currently more determined by luck than effort, and that the middle class is getting hollowed out," she added.
Shafik argued that more women should join the workforce for greater economic equity and prosperity, as they currently represent 16 percent of the Egyptian labor market, affirming that adopting a critical mindset towards the economic situation gives room for development as downwardly mobile Egyptians currently outnumber those who are upwardly mobile.
The Egyptian-born Shafik became the first woman to run the London School of Economics and Political Science in September 2017.
She served as the deputy governor of the Bank of England in February 2017, and led the LSE as director starting September 2017.
In 2015, Shafik was honoured by Queen Elizabeth II for her outstanding contributions in her field.
Originally from the coastal city Alexandria, the world renowned economist, widely known by her nickname ‘Minouche’, was made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) for the several leading positions she has assumed in the UK and worldwide.
In recent years, the Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture has invited renowned international figures in the fields of politics, international relations and humanitarian affairs to speak at AUC.
Former Speakers have included Kofi Annan (2005), former secretary-general of the United Nations; Dr. Bernard Kouchner (2006), former foreign minister of France and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières; Mary Robinson (2007), former president of Ireland and the first female to assume that post; Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland (2012), former prime minister of Norway, former director-general of the World Health Organization and founder of the sustainability movement; Nabil Elaraby (2013), secretary-general of the League of Arab States; Nabil Fahmy (2014), Egypt’s former foreign minister and dean of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and Michael Møller, UN under-secretary-general (2015); in addition to many other prominent speakers and global leaders.
In addition to the annual series, the fund has helped establish the Nadia Younes Conference Room, which serves Cairo International Model United Nations members, and the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service.