Pushing envelope through gender parity, inclusion, economic Mobility: Min.



Mon, 30 Nov 2020 - 01:51 GMT


Mon, 30 Nov 2020 - 01:51 GMT

Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat - Press Photo

Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat - Press Photo

CAIRO – 30 November 2020: “We must shift gears and change mindsets to be gender blind, in order to see competence as the sole determinant to what a person is capable of, not their gender,” Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat said Monday.


These came during the virtual Women Working For Change (WFC): The Summit organized by the Africa CEO Forum and co-hosted by International Finance Corporation (IFC), on November 24 under the theme “Imagine tomorrow. Change today”. 


Al-Mashat, spoke about changing mentalities across generations for including women in high-ranking positions in workplaces, the role of positive reinforcement in boosting female participation, and the role of education in closing the gender gap, in the one-on-one interview, “Conversation with a Leader” with moderator and Managing Editor of The Africa Report, Nicholas Norbrook. 


The aforementioned requires cooperation on several fronts. In July 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation, the National Council for Women (NCW), and the World Economic Forum (WEF),  launched the “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator” the first of its kind public-private collaboration model in the Middle East and Africa, that aims to help governments and businesses take decisive action to close economic gender gaps. 


Aiming to increase women’s participation in the labour force, close gender gaps in remuneration and investment, advance more women into management and leadership positions, and hardwire gender parity in the future of work, the accelerator is built to take proactive action to advance women’s economic empowerment.


Needless to say, the pandemic, a global humanitarian challenge derailed the progress to achieving the sustainable development goals but was also an initiator to “The Great Reset” . One of the silver linings, Al-Mashat explained, was that COVID-19 accelerated reforms, including closing the gender gap, to be able to build back better through inclusivity and nurturing diversity. 


“Egypt was the first country to provide a women-specific response during COVID-19 launched by the National Council For Women. The country scored 1st place in the Middle East and West Asia regions with 21 policy measures according to the UNDP COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker,” said Al-Mashat.


As per the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Mapping Framework, a comprehensive exercise completed by the Ministry of International Cooperation, under its principles of Economic Diplomacy, the current portfolio of development financing has 13 projects amounting to $82 million that exclusively target SDG 5: Gender Equality. This is in addition to the other projects in the portfolio that achieve the same goal as a collateral effect to their development. In 2020, the Ministry has secured an additional financing dedicated to SDG 5, with a total of $7 million through bilateral cooperation with Spain and Canada. 


“The participation of women is macro-critical. Economic inclusion and empowerment of women in development is essential to Egypt’s path forward.” said Al-Mashat. 


As Minister Al-Mashat stated, knowledge is the source of competence. During the interview, she pointed out the importance of education being at the heart of reform when it comes inclusive and sustainable growth. As per the “ODA SDG Mapping Framework”, the Ministry’s portfolio of development projects include 36 dedicated to SDG 4: Quality Education,  amounting to $2,361 million.


Education in Egypt has reformed to emphasize digital learning, technology and inclusion; making sure both boys and girls have access to equal education in urban and rural areas. An exemplar initiative would be the establishment of the 12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) High School for boys and girls. The project, established in 2011 and financed through the USAID; taps on the pool of talented women, who can lead the sectors of the future through cutting-edge technologies and research breakthroughs. 


According to a UNDP report in 2018 on Africa, if women entered the workforce at the same rate as men, the economic output would increase to $962 billion.


The WFC is an Africa Forum initiative that brings together female executives with the belief that African women leaders are at the core of transforming the continent. 


The summit brought together over 300 influential figures in Africa such as, Vera Songwe, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa, Cameroon; Alexandra Palt, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer & Executive Vice President of l'Oréal Foundation at L'Oréal, France; Sérgio Pimenta, Vice President, Middle East and Africa, IFC, USA; and Ariella Ji, CFO of Huawei Northern Africa. 





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