Women Empowerment and Gender Equality: An Overview of Egypt’s Startling Policies

Khalid Taimur Akram
Wednesday 26 May 2021

Egypt is known for its enriched and large civilization that evolved more than 5000 years ago. It is one of the oldest and exceptional civilizations. Following the ancient civilizational roots, Egypt has emerged as an important state in today’s changing dynamics of international affairs.   For over more than a decade, Egypt's internal policies have been strengthened due to its structural reforms and gradual transformation. From domestic policies to international economic market-orientated policies, the country has been encouraged by many initiatives. The state is a hub of intensive tourist activities. The Egyptian pyramids, one of the wonders of the world, attract many foreigners. The state has immense potential and is known for its thriving economy and wonderful civilization.  

Egypt is leaving no stone unturned to promote women rights. Therefore, the prudent and triumphant strategies of the Government provide a glaring manifestation of the growing prominence of Egyptian women as a substantial player in the nation-building process. The women empowerment initiatives and achievements are the outcomes of far-sighted policies of the Egyptian Government. The country views women’s participation as an integral part of the national development process. In this aspect, the transformative measures have been taken by the administration for gender equality that is credible to highlight. In the following lines, a comprehensive prelude of Egypt’s exultant measures and startling policies is given depicting a clear understanding of their promotion of women’s rights. The article highlights the process of women empowerment that has evolved in the last two generations. The study further analyzes the constructive policies taken by the Government to bring women participation in the streamline and in the private-public sector.

Women Status in Egypt vis-à-vis Women Empowerment Strategies

Women have always been the backbone of the family and the main pillar of the sustainable social structure. Women have continued to remain an integral part of maintaining the nation’s heritage and cultural identity. Women empowerment is a primary focus of the global community in the developmental efforts and multiple other dimensions related to gender equality. It can be defined as promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and others. Egypt held women in high position and provided them balanced status with men. Ancient Egyptian women possessed equal legal and political rights, reflected by Egyptian art and manuscripts. Historically, a lot of Egyptian women ruled the country as queens and pharaohs. 

In present times, Egypt is ensuring gender equality and the provision of women rights. Egyptian women play a pivotal part in the country’s policy orientation process, economic development in each sector. Therefore, Egyptian society has evolved outrightly in a positive way that has created a vibrant and inclusive society with more participation of women in every walk of life.Women participation paved the way for the country’s structural reforms and established progressive ways for broader inclusion in political matters.

The Government’s vision is to provide necessary tools and learnings, which enable women to achieve professional excellence. In the Egyptian 2014 constitution, the legal framework for women was extended for the first time. In this aspect, Chapter 3, Article 51 dedicated to ensuring public rights, freedom and human dignity. Therefore, ensuring equal status for women is highly significant for the Egyptian Government.  The administration’s strategies emphasis on addressing women's issues regarding multiple aspects, i.e., equal opportunities or allocatinga quarter of the seats of local councils for women in a number of areas. For example, social-political rights, social security services, prevent discrimination, protection against all forms of violence, and women's empowerment.

Significant Role of National Council for Women (NCW) in Egypt:

The role of NCW is vital to examine for the betterment and encouragement of Egyptian women. The organization has played a pivotal role in policy orientation and ensuring a quality life for women in every segment. It aims to bring all women of the state under the ambit of NCW to promote gender equality and ensure women’s rights.  In 2021, the organization has introduced ‘Women’s Empowerment and Financial and Economic Inclusion in Rural Egypt: Covid-19 Response program’. The recently launched program enables women to counter the financial obstacles because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this aspect, the inclusion of Egyptian women vis-à-vis economic and financial empowerment would massively benefit them.

Egypt was the world’s first country to issue a policy paper on “Egypt’s Rapid Response to Women’s Situation during the COVID-19 Outbreak”, which explained the condition of women and helped shape the national response to the pandemic. Moreover, the program provides them multiple opportunities to integrate for the socio-economic benefits in different sectors including, digitalization and Information & Communication Technology (ICT). Therefore, the program would be highly significant regarding mastery of new skills and techniques. Moreover, promoting women in various fields including, health, education, business, medical, Information Technology (IT), political system, decision-making process, is the main focus of the National Council for Women (NCW).

Each Governmental policy is based on supporting women and finding the best possible way to tackle their issues. Women's economic empowerment is one of Egypt's top national priorities, in line with the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030. It is backed by a genuine political will of the Government which sincerely believes that empowering women means empowering the whole community. In this aspect, the main features are as follows:

  • Introducing productive opportunities or national programs to build women’s capacity and raise competitiveness in the workforce.
  • Providing opportunities for women to integrate them into the business sector and entrepreneurship.  
  • Launching media campaigns for public awareness and eradicate gender inequality.
  • Conducting surveys and public opinion polls that provide gender-disaggregated data serves as an updated input to the policymaking process and the evaluation of interventions.

Egypt’s Vision 2030: A Brief Prelude of Sustainable Policy Objectives

The Egyptian vision 2030 is a national agenda launched in 2016.  The robust agenda reflects the state’s long-term plan to achieve strategic and sustainable development, adhering to the core objectives in all sectors. The integrated vision has been adopted by many developmental institutions paving the way for socio-economic and sustainable development. The grand agenda also encapsulatesthe national Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030. The broader pillars of the vision 2030 are as follows:

  1. Improving living standards of the Egyptian citizens
  2. Ensuring the competitive and robust economic structure
  3. Justice, social inclusion and broader engagements
  4. Knowledge, innovation, technological advancement, research & development
  5.  Sustainable Eco-system
  6. Governance of state and strong institutional mechanism
  7. Ensuring peace and security
  8. Strengthening Egyptian leadership  

Egypt’s Successful Policy Measures

Egypt has settled an excellent precedent in promoting women’s rights and making them vital pillar to contribute to the nation’s building. Under current dynamic leadership, Egypt is fully committed to ensuring gender equality and considers it a prerequisite for developing a modern and progressive society. Therefore, the leadership believes that there are no roadblocks in the way of women’s ambitious socio-economic goals, for which the sky is the limit. The visionary leadership is fully aware that the positive progress of their women and active participation in the very field would pave the way for their inclusive socio-economic and political development.

*The writer is the Executive Director of the Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad.

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