6 Western countries honour 12 remarkable Egyptian women on Int’l Women’s Day

Reham El-Adawi , Sunday 10 Mar 2024

Mexico, Canada, Sweden, France, Germany, and the Czech Republic celebrated the transformative social, economic, and political achievements of 12 remarkable Egyptian women at the 2024 edition of the “Champions of Change” awards ceremony.

International Women s Day
Ambassadors of Mexico, Canada, Sweden, France, Germany and Czech Republic honor 12 Egyptian women on International Women s Day.


The event was hosted at the residence of the newly named Mexican Ambassador to Cairo Leonora Rueda on Wednesday.

The ceremony was attended by Louis Dumas, Canada’s ambassador; Ivan Jukl, the Czech Republic’s ambassador; Raphaël Martin de Lagarde, minister counsellor and deputy head of mission at France embassy; Frank Hartmann, Germany’s ambassador; and Håkan Emsgård, Sweden’s ambassador.

The "Champions of Change" awards were established to recognize the contributions and efforts of Egyptian gender equality pioneers in building a stronger Egypt in 2020.

The awards ceremony takes place in conjunction with the celebration of International and Egyptian Women's Day.

The following 12 awardees were honoured in 2024.

Manal Abdel-Moneim: She is an entrepreneur with ventures in FMCG, renewable energy, waste management, and agribusiness. She empowers rural women by teaching literacy and supporting their businesses in food, farming, and crafts, aiming for their financial independence and access to formal finance.

Namees Arnous: She is the founder of E7kky Network, a media, PR, and communication company, with a focus on women empowerment and gender equality.

Soraya Bahgat: She is a human rights activist and founder of Tahrir Bodyguard, which focuses on protecting Egyptian female protestors and combating sexual harassment. She is also involved with the Girl Generation, striving to end female genital mutilation in Africa (FGM) in one generation.

Salma El-Lakany: She is the founder of VeryNile Shop, an innovation hub that creates up-cycled products in collaboration with women living by the Nile with a human-centric approach.

Mai Farid: She is the CEO of the Universal Health Insurance Authority and assistant minister of finance for economic justice and heads the reform of the Universal Health Insurance, which has been supported since 2019 by France, alongside other donors.

Fatma Ibrahim: She is the founder of The Sex Talk Arabic, an innovative and pioneering not-for-profit organization that has received recognition for its commitment to human rights.

Hala Khalil: She is an Egyptian film director, producer, and writer. Her films, which focus on the day-to-day narratives of Egyptian women and their identity separation from men, have been at the receiving hand of critical acclaim, functioning as an important part of feminism in Egypt. This made her a prominent figure at the forefront of the rise in female directors in the region.

Fatma Metwally: She is an entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of a peanut factory, a sector dominated by men in Upper Egypt. The factory produces two tons of peanuts a day, and she is in the export business.

Sara Sabri: She is the first Egyptian astronaut to travel into space on a Blue Origin NS-22 Flight. She later founded Deep Space Initiative (DSI), a non-profit organization based in Colorado, US, that aims to increase accessibility in the space field by providing opportunities in research and education while enabling deep space exploration for all humankind.

Géraldine Samir Tawfik: She is the director of Samusocial International Egypt. In that capacity, she strongly contributes to reinforcing access to better living conditions and rights for vulnerable and marginalized populations of street children, including girls and young mothers.

Yara Shalaby: She is the first female Rally contestant in Egypt, champion in desert racing, Egyptian sports ambassador of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), and member of the federation's Women in Motorsport Committee.

Hanaa Shehata: She is the director of the Canada Desk, Ministry of International Cooperation (MOIC), a key partner for Canada responsible for agreements between the Egyptian and Canadian governments. She is constantly providing support to Canada’s development assistance, which is currently reaching over 123,000 beneficiaries in six governorates.

In her welcome speech, Ambassador Rueda said: "We celebrate International Women's Day and Egyptian Women's Day for the fourth consecutive year with our friends in Canada and Sweden.”

“This year, we welcome the Czech Republic, France, and Germany on board. Today, we're here to acknowledge the Egyptian Women "Champions of Change," she added.

“We honour the extraordinary women of Egypt whose relentless dedication, courage, and resilience pave the way for progress and change, from development and business to ambitious students, policy-making, and beyond,” Rueda continued.

“The theme of today's event, ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ resonates deeply with the values that our countries and Egypt hold dear. Inclusion is not merely about recognizing differences but embracing diversity and ensuring that every voice is heard, every talent is valued, and every opportunity is accessible," she affirmed.

Moreover, Ambassador Hartmann honoured the two winners in the embassy's competition in Arabic poetry writing: Hagar Ali and Jana El-Sherif, who recited their poems that advocate gender equality and empowering women and girls.   

Canadian Ambassador Louis Dumas also pointed out that Global Affairs Canada has a proven track record in supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in its international assistance. 

Czech Ambassador Jukl confirmed that his country prioritizes protecting and empowering women and girls as a core tenet of its foreign policy. It actively advocates for equal participation in public life, economic independence, and freedom from violence across international forums like the UN and regional platforms.

The Czech embassy in Cairo champions diverse projects empowering women and tackling local challenges, he added.

Deputy Head of Mission at France embassy De Lagarde said: "In 2023, France has mobilized €1 million to promote gender equality and combat discrimination and violence against women in Egypt.”

Among other things, France funded 14 local organizations. It has also been supporting women's entrepreneurship, stressed De Lagarde.

“To date, 7,500 projects have been financed and 26,400 jobs created in 26 governorates," he added.

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