Ambassadors of Canada and Sweden to Egypt honors Egyptian Women Change-makers after a 6-months hiatus dictated by COVID19



Thu, 17 Sep 2020 - 03:36 GMT


Thu, 17 Sep 2020 - 03:36 GMT

H.E. Mr. Jess Dutton, Ambassador of Canada to Egypt and H.E. Mr. Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden and EU Gender Champion to Egypt, with the awarded women- press photo

H.E. Mr. Jess Dutton, Ambassador of Canada to Egypt and H.E. Mr. Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden and EU Gender Champion to Egypt, with the awarded women- press photo

On Thursday September 17, 2020, H.E. Mr. Jess Dutton, Ambassador of Canada to Egypt and H.E. Mr. Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden and EU Gender Champion to Egypt, had the pleasure of recognizing the exceptional achievements of ten inspirational Egyptian women change-makers. The event to celebrate their incredible efforts to create a more gender equitable and inclusive society was originally scheduled to take place on the occasion of International Women’s Day last March, but had to be postponed due to COVID19. Earlier today, the socially distanced ceremony took place in the garden of the Swedish Embassy in Cairo, where Canada and Sweden had the privilege to jointly award the women, including H.E. Dr. Niveen Al-Kabbag, Minister of Social Solidarity, and H.E. Dr. Manal Awad, Governor of Damietta, along with the youngest awardee, Hanna Gouda, the twelve-year old table tennis star who recently became the first Egyptian and African player to top the Women’s Single ITTF Cadet World Ranking in 2020.

““To every woman, to every girl out there…you are a source of inspiration, you can conquer any challenge…. Don’t let anyone set a limit to your dreams, dream big and fiercely and achieve beyond expectations, because you can! May you always stay strong, determined and full of love, life and success!” Said H.E. Dr. Niveen Al-Kabbag.

‘’Egypt’s young and dynamic population is the natural source on which this great country’s future will be built. Today, we are recognizing the efforts of some notable role models who are advancing the status of Egyptian women by their great work.  We are encouraged to see more and more Egyptian women assuming leadership positions shaping the future of their country, and impacting policy-making, business and society.’’ Said H.E. Mr. Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden and EU Gender Champion to Egypt.

Sweden’s work in Egypt and the wider region to promote female participation in the economy is extensive and includes both educational training, financial aid and other programs. The Swedish development cooperation agency (Sida) funds a programme focusing on the social, economic and legal empowerment of Egyptian women, together with Egyptian ministries and authorities, UN agencies and civil society actors.


In 2020, the Embassy of Sweden in Cairo, hosted several activities with the purpose of promoting women and girls, including a workshop to endorse female students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field, as well as a WikiGap “edit-a-thon” where 150 volunteers generated articles about pioneering Egyptian women in medicine, biology and virology.

Canada has been at the forefront of empowering women and girls through its development program across Egypt, and through its Feminist International Assistance Policy recognizes 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. Along with advancing inclusive economic growth, equality and empowerment for women and men in Egypt, Canada’s development program priorities include:

-        Improved access to decent work, self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities from existing businesses and cooperatives, particularly women led, for the most marginalized, particularly women and youth.

-        Improved access to safe, age-appropriate nutritional foods and supplements, and quality, comprehensive gender-responsive health and reproductive right services, information and commodities particular by women, adolescents, and girls. 


 “I have had the pleasure to witness Egypt’s strong will and determination to empower women and girls over the last three years.  Today, we recognize and celebrate both the journeys and visions of some of the committed women who have tirelessly worked to realize this will and determination, and in their own unique ways have made their communities and Egypt more gender-equitable, more peaceful, and more prosperous. Public-private partnerships are pivotal for sustaining change, and we are proud of the Canadian-funded projects and our partners in Egypt who are leading the way in improving the skills and training of women, securing a better quality of life and fostering the future of a prosperous Egypt”. Said H.E. Mr. Jess Dutton, Ambassador of Canada to Egypt.

Dr. Manal Awad, Governor of Damietta was recognized for her leadership in her governorate’s COVID19 response, in addition to being a key partner to the Canada-funded Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People (DJEP) project, which was sustained through a successful innovative Public Private Partnership with Methanex Egypt.

“It is an honour to be with you today and receive this award. I am grateful for your partnership with Damietta’s governorate in several fields aiming to achieve the sustainable development goals. We look forward for more prospects in the near future, especially after the Covid-19 crisis has hit the world. In spite of the fact that Damietta is the first Egyptian governorate to reach zero cases, we still remain focused on recovering local economy. Empowering women is crucial to our approach as stronger society needs strong women. I encourage all women and girls to be fearless, and to set goals for themselves no matter what their age is. There is no development without giving women the chance to prove how capable they are. So work hard and aim high” Said H.E. Dr. Manal Awad, Governor of Damietta.


Awardees came from diverse backgrounds and sectors, showcasing the fundamental role of women in rallying Egypt’s position globally, including:

1.     Dr. Lobna Helal, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), who was named the second most powerful woman in the MENA by Forbes magazine in 2016 – 2017.

2.     Amena AlSaie, CEO of Helm Foundation which promotes the social inclusion for people with disabilities in Egypt. She is certified by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency in “Barrier-free Environments” in Japan.

3.     Dina Emam is an Egyptian-American producer who served as the Assistant Artistic Director for the 36th Cairo International Film Festival. She is the producer of Yommedine, a film which won the François Chalais Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

4.     Manal El Jesri, Public Affairs Manager with Methanex (Canadian company), Egypt’s only methanol production facility based in Damietta. Methanex Egypt pledged $1million USD to the creation of jobs in Damietta through a two-year partnership with the International Labour Organization’s Canada-funded Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People (DJEP) project, the first Public Private Partnership for the UN organization in Egypt. Manal is a member of the company’s leadership team, and has been instrumental to the partnership and project’s success.

5.     Manal Youssef, Undersecretary and Head of the Central Department for Projects and Youth Training, Ministry of Youth & Sports. Manal led the Ministry’s efforts in institutionalizing the job search clubs program, developed by the Canada funded Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People Project in the Ministry’s youth centers across all 27 governorates.   

6.     Rana Ezz, Entrepreneurship & Incubators Specialist, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA). Rana has been working on entrepreneurial activities with over 22 public and private universities.  She is also a national trainer for Start and Improve Your Business, utilized by the Canada funded Aswan Skills Development Project, implemented by the Aga Khan Foundation-Canada. 

7.     Rania Ayman is the founder of Entreprenelle, a mission driven enterprise that impacts more than 50,000 women. Entreprenelle bridges the economic gender gap by educating, training and linking women to all the resources possible though the process of starting their own businesses.

Press release from the Swedish and Canadian embassies. 



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