Cairo, 12 June 2022: The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, the National Council for Women, UN Women Egypt and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Middle East and North Africa (J-PAL MENA) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) organized a seminar last Thursday with the participation of the European Union Delegation to Egypt and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on “Global Evidence on Digital Financial Services and Savings Groups and its Impact on Women’ Empowerment”.
The seminar comes in the framework of the project on “Women’s Empowerment and Financial and Economic Inclusion in Rural Egypt: COVID-19 Response” which aims at supporting over 160,000 women in ten Egyptian governorates to open bank accounts, access personal savings and micro-loans, increase their financial literacy and be integrated into the formal economy through their participation in digital Savings Groups. The UN Women project is implemented under the national program on financial inclusion (known as Tahweesha), and in partnership with the National Council for Women and the Central Bank of Egypt with the generous financial support of the European Union and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Speakers included Hala El-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women, His Excellency, Christian Berger, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, Ms. Marjolein Jongman, Head of Economic Affairs & International Cooperation - Kingdom of The Netherlands to Egypt, Christine Arab, Country Representative of UN Women Egypt, Alison Fahey, Executive Director of J-PAL MENA at AUC; Amr Soliman, board member of the NCW and chair of its Economics committee; Reham Rizk, Head of Social Planning and Development Unit, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and Marina Dimova, Director – Global Head of Financial Industry & Network Advocacy, Women’s World Banking.
In her keynote speech, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Hala El-Said emphasized that Egypt views the topic of digitalization as part of a larger framework of digital inclusion, and issues related to enhancing the digital capabilities of all members of society.
She added that promoting gender equality and women’s economic development boosts sustainable and inclusive growth, and is a key driver to peace, stability and social cohesion highlighting that one of the main barriers is digital divide or the digital gender gap as females have less access to technology and the internet compared to males.
In her remarks, Maya Morsy; President of the National Council for Women, expressed her pleasure to participate in this seminar to discuss the digital savings and loans project that is implemented in several Egyptian villages.
Morsy also expressed her gratitude to Hala Elsaid; Minister of Planning and Economic Development, for her participation and support to all partners contributing to the project to reach out to women and succeed on-ground.
In her speech, Morsy thanked the European Union, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and UN Women for their contribution and support to the national efforts, praising the achievements reached this year while stressing on the importance of documentation, evaluation, and success stories featuring women beneficiaries.
Morsy added that the project contributes to the great national efforts aiming at institutionalizing and digitizing the savings and loans model that the Egyptian government is working on to enhance women’s access to technology and services and promote their financial inclusion and savings methods.
The President of NCW emphasized that she is proud of the results that the national project has achieved so far, noting that this success was the result of cooperation between several entities to support women and change their lives for the better and to prove that women can succeed.
“The strategic partnership between the European Union and Egypt on financial inclusion of women and economic empowerment is mature and strong. We can build on more than a decade of successful cooperation. I am pleased to announce that soon this year, the European Union will reinforce investments under the umbrella of the National Programme for Women’s Financial Inclusion, expanding the geographical coverage of the EU partnership to eight governorates, reaching 100 000 women,” Ambassador Berger said.
In her speech, Christine Arab; UN Women Country Representative stated that equality in financial inclusion, and equity in terms of real and lived access, use and benefit is a key driver to global economic growth. UN Women, with the generous financial support of the European Union and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is partnering with the NCW and CBE under the national financial inclusion programme Tahweesha.
She added that this partnership supports 160,000 women in 10 Governorates to open bank accounts, access personal savings and micro-loans, increase their financial literacy, to take on greater leadership roles in their communities, and to be integrated into the formal economy through participating in digital savings groups”.
“Rigorous impact evaluations conducted by J-PAL affiliated professors shed light on what works and what does not work to reduce poverty; these insights can support government efforts to make evidence-informed policy decisions to ultimately improve development outcomes. Under the framework of the Egypt Impact Lab, women’s economic empowerment is a priority, so we are glad to share rigorous research and policy lessons on digital financial services and savings groups to inform the design and scale up of the Government of Egypt’s Tahweesha programme,” Alison Fahey, Executive Director of J-PAL MENA at AUC said.
The event contributes to the broader efforts of the Government of Egypt’s to strengthen evidence-informed policy and improve development outcomes for Egyptians under the Egypt Impact Lab, a collaboration between the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and J-PAL MENA at AUC. The National Council for Women is a strategic partner in the lab and women’s empowerment is one of its three thematic areas.
Bringing together several experts from national and international organizations and the private sector, the seminar aimed at providing an overview of the global evidence tracking how digital financial services and savings groups are advancing women’s empowerment. The event presented global best practices on tracking this impact to inform the design and scale up of the Government of Egypt’s Tahweesha programme.