Minister of International Cooperation Rania El-Mashat was among 9 Egyptian women who received the Champions of Change award from the governments of Sweden, Canada, and Mexico on the occasion of Egyptian Women’s Day
The award ceremony was held on 18 March at the residence of the Mexican ambassador to Egypt Jose Octavio Tripp, who handed out the awards together with his Canadian counterpart, Louis Dumas, and the Chargé d’Affairs of Sweden’s Embassy, Per-Axel Frielingsdorf, as a part of the embassies’ celebration of Egyptian Women’s Day.
The nine awarded women in a group photo with ambassadors of Mexico, Canada and Chargé d’Affairs of Sweden Embassy (photo credit of Mexico Embassy)
The ceremony witnessed the honouring of Rania El-Mashat, the minister of international cooperation, along with eight other women who have all contributed to making Egypt a more gender equal society.
The eight awardees were Mona Korashi, a pioneer in the field of women’s rights in Egypt and a member of the International Women’s Alliance; Heba Rashid, founder and CEO of the Mersal Charity Foundation, which had a prominent role in supporting the medical sector in facing the COVID-19 pandemic; and Nurse Souad El-Sayed Abdel-Rahim, head of the nursing department at Al-Qoutrien Hospital in Aswan.
Nadine Ashraf, the founder of an Instagram page that aims to raise the awareness of survivors of sexual harassment about their rights guaranteed by the law, was also one of the awardees; alongside Mirna Abdel-Azim, an official at the International Organization for Migration, where she works to provide protection for migrants and refugees; Rawan Bassem, managing director of Enpact Egypt, who leads the empowering entrepreneurship initiative to close the gender-gap every day; Eman Rasmy, a successful model for women in the field of innovation and information technology in Upper Egypt; and finally Maye Zein El-Dein, founder and president of Al-Hassan Foundation.
The “Champions of Change” awards were established to recognise the contributions of Egyptian gender equality pioneers and their efforts in building a stronger Egypt. Gender equality is a priority for Sweden, Canada, and Mexico; three countries that all have feminist foreign policies. The award ceremony took place in conjunction with the celebration of International and Egyptian Women’s Day.
“Women participation is Micro critical, and we know that if there is gender parity, Egypt’s GDP will go up by 34 percent. So, with our international partners, we are working hard to achieve these goals,” said El-Mashat.
“I will seize this opportunity to congratulate the other women who have received this very distinguished award. This will be more appetite to do more for the beautiful ladies and men in Egypt.”
Notably, Sweden was the first country in the world to adopt a Feminist Foreign Policy, and Sweden has been working in Egypt and the Arab region more broadly to promote women’s economic empowerment through a number of initiatives.
For example, the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) funds a programme focusing on the social, economic, and legal empowerment of Egyptian women, in partnership with the Egyptian Government, UN agencies, and civil society actors.
“It is crucial to include a gender perspective in the COVID-19 response. With our feminist foreign policies, we seek ways to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic and improve the situation for women and girls, also in the long term, as we build back better so that women and girls will have the rights, the representation, and the resources that are theirs,” pointed Frielingsdorf.
Mexico was the first country in Latin America to adopt a feminist foreign policy, joining countries from around the world — including Canada and Sweden — that put women and girl’s rights as a top foreign policy objective.
“We support efforts to eliminate structural differences, gaps, and gender inequalities in order to build fair and prosperous societies. Women are at the core of the fight against the COVID-19 crisis: they are leading the health crisis response, where women make up almost 70 percent of the health care workforce,” said Mexico’s Ambassador Jose Octavio Tripp.
Canada has been at the forefront of empowering women and girls through its development program across Egypt, and through its Feminist International Assistance Policy, it recognises that supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is the best way to build a more peaceful, more inclusive and more prosperous world.
Canada’s Ambassador to Egypt Louis Dumas said, “Our feminist foreign policies are directed towards measures that build a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world. None of these goals can be achieved without empowering women and girls. The emerging coronavirus pandemic makes this priority more important than ever.”
“We also know that women are bearing most of the increasing burden of unpaid work at home, due to the closure of schools and childcare facilities. Today, and every day, we celebrate the social, economic, and political achievements of women and work to raise awareness of the barriers that still hold them back,” the ambassador added.