Thu, 25 Feb 2021 - 12:39 GMT
During the launch -Press photo
CAIRO – 25 February 2021: Egypt's Ministry of International Cooperation with the National Council for Women, World Economic Forum and the Private Sector launched, Thursday, the “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator” action plan.
The launch comes within the state’s continued efforts to close the Gender Gap and in celebration of the forthcoming International’s Women Day on March 8.
By this launch, Egypt became the first country in Africa, Middle East and North Africa to launch this accelerator, which is a public - private collaboration model supported by the World Economic Forum.
Ministry of International Cooperation noted in a statement that the accelerator aims to address current gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future.
“The accelerator model drives systems change, highlighting the need for collaborative action across different scales – not just institutional structures and policies but also norms, attitudes and through individual business commitments,” it stated.
Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, commented that the accelerator has helped mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in 2020, and its laid-out action plan will help counterbalance the widened gender gap in 2021.
According to the statement, the action plan highlights the Government of Egypt’s continued commitment to applying needed policies and reforms to push the gender agenda and help support women economic empowerment as female participation in the economy is macro-critical. Setting up action coalitions between relevant public and private sector stakeholders are necessary to increase female glamour force participation and the number of women in leadership positions, as well as to close wage gaps and prepare women for jobs of the future.
“We are aiming to achieve gender equality by providing women equal opportunities in the work and social spheres, in order to ensure women’s economic empowerment and inclusion,” President of the National Council for Women, Maya Morsy, stated.
She pointed out that the economic empowerment of women is a key focus in the NCW’s framework towards the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030; which was approved by H.E. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2017.
Morsy added that gender equality and economic inclusion of women will lead to an increase in the country’s GDP.
As for the “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator” action plan, it consists of 10 commandments, each includes several tasks and sub-actions for all stakeholders to implement, bringing their own expertise to the gender agenda plan.
The commandments cover a wide array of fields where development is necessary to ensure women’s inclusion: empowering work regulations, leadership mentorship and protocols, educational re-skilling and preparation, digitalization of businesses, and social inclusion measures and policies, according to the announced data.
For her part, Managing Director and Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society at the World Economic Forum, Saadia Zahidi, said that Egypt has made tremendous investments in its human capital foundation by expanding women’s higher education in recent years.
Zahidi added that the accelerator will support local efforts to unleash the full potential of women in the Egyptian economy
The first commandment states that the representation of women on boards should be complemented with regular reporting on gender policies issued from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA). This will include conducting meetings by both the government and the private sector with relevant stakeholders to develop concrete recommendations in advancing the representation of women on boards.
In order to alleviate the challenges of balancing child care and work life, the government and private sector will also issue policy notes on childcare and elderly care services; aiming to encourage more private sector investment in both the aforementioned services while raising awareness on the important role women play at work and in childcare. This is the scope of work listed under the second commandment.
The third commandment looks into creating safe spaces and places for women to work. The government and private sector will issue a code of conduct and policy notes for businesses across different sectors and industries, showcase regulations against sexual harassment in the workplace and develop policy papers that show the impact COVID-19 had on the employment of women, the gender gap in jobs of the future, and income and economic opportunities. Having policy notes and recommendations shared with the private sector will enhance working conditions for women.
“The private sector has the opportunity and flexibility to play an integral role in bridging the gender gap. Together with all stakeholders we are committed to implementing the action points in the accelerators action plan to advance the economic empowerment of women,” Vice Chairman of Travco Group Karim El Chiaty said.
The “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator” also aims to provide women with skills, experience, and scholarship opportunities by designing programs that would allow them to enter technology-based fields, such as information technology; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); and artificial intelligence (AI). Both the government and private sector in the fourth commandment work on equipping women in the digital sphere as it has been proven crucial during the pandemic.
“Women should be granted access to digital. We are here to support and help make this plan accessible and achievable in order to close the gender gap,” World Economic Forum, Gitanjali Chaturvedi said.
The fifth commandment focuses on promoting company-to-company mentorship, and women’s leadership and mentorship programs. This will encompass organizing yearly events for female business owners and directors to meet and connect with other experts in their fields, building on existing governmental leadership programs, and customizing training programs for women to be represented on boards of specific companies.
The sixth commandment aims to implement gender equality models and women empowerment principles. This entails expanding gender responsive policies and services to promote women’s inclusion in leadership positions, eliminate gender-based pay gaps, eradicate sexual harassment, and enhance work-life balance. The regulations shall be implemented across both the government’s and the private sector’s workplaces.
The Action Plan promotes financial inclusion through training and awareness programs that enhance financial literacy and encourage women to open bank accounts through the seventh commandment. Egypt also works on establishing a database of women working in the informal sector and providing them with ID cards, which will grant them access to variant economic opportunities.
Alongside the government’s efforts, the private sector will also play a leading role in raising awareness of the role of women in leadership in the eighth commandment, as the work of influential women will be highlighted and showcased as positive examples.
In the ninth commandment, the stakeholders shall work on enhancing their cooperation with the National Wages Council to close gender-based pay gap and achieve pay equity; as part of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), led by the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Women, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The tenth commandment hammers on the use of networking and digital marketing to help women entrepreneurs and female-led startups have better access to local and global markets. This will help encourage the start-up community in Egypt as it is a leading entrepreneurial hub, and will increase local and global exposure for women business owners.
According to the “Women, Business, and The Law 2021” World Bank report, Egypt scores an average 45 out of 100 for its WBL index, measuring the economic empowerment of women. The index consists of mobility, workplace, pay, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pension. Egypt scored highest in pension with 100 points, followed by 75 in both entrepreneurship and workplace.
Egypt has made gender equality a priority, the Ministry of International Cooperation launched a dedicated micro-site on its official portal to Gender Equality “Empowering Women, Empowering Societies” - members of the international and local community can access information, insights and updates on the accelerator, development projects as well as policies being implemented to achieve SDG 5. The portal also includes an interactive map of Egypt’s development projects mapped out according to SDG and location - where users can access in real time any project in accordance to its goal.