FILE - Rania Al-Mashat, International Monetary Fund (IMF) advisor, Shaden Khallaf, senior policy advisor for the Middle East and North Africa Bureau at the UNHCR, Azza Karam, UNFPA senior advisor and Jacinthe Rihan, Program Area Manager for Greater Cairo
CAIRO - 3 December 2017: Many inspirational Egyptian women have overcome all barriers, from gender, age, race and nationality, to land the highest positions in some of the most influential global institutions for development. Each is playing a vital role in the international arena, whether socially, culturally or economically—and they are all worthy role models for every Egyptian girl.
Rania al-Mashat … The Monetary Policy Maker
IMF advisor Rania al-Mashat has been a key player in modernizing Egypt’s monetary policy, working within the government and at the top global financial institution. She has also garnered international recognition; in 2015, Mashat was chosen among the top 50 Most Influential Women in the Egyptian Economy. She was earlier named among the 2014 Young Global Leaders (YGL) by the World Economic Forum; and selected among the Most Powerful Women in the Egyptian Banking Sector in the same year.
Whenever she is asked how she has managed to achieve what she has at such a young age or how she was able to break the many barriers of being an Arab, a Muslim and a woman, Mashat’s answer is simple: “I am not a woman in the workplace, I am an individual who has skills and who is able to have an impact . . . I believe in four principles of success, my 4 C’s: Competence, Connections, Confidence and Charm. They have taken me a long way.”
A leading global economist, Mashat’s role with the IMF is focused on strengthening global monetary policy frameworks and financial stability analyses, working closely with the chief economist of the IMF. “The responsibilities are designed to tap into years of experience managing Egypt’s macroeconomic transition in the most challenging periods of its recent history,” she explains.
Brought up in an academic family, and a home that was a frequent meeting place for intellectuals, Mashat was able to articulate her life objective at the age of 7. “Whenever asked what I wanted to become when I grow up, I would tell them I wanted to be Dr. Rania al-Mashat,” she recalls. The 7-year-old planner did not know at the time what a PhD was or what discipline she wanted to study, but she was convinced that a high academic degree was the “license” to become credible in any field, to draw respect in a specialization, and to eventually have an impact and serve her country.
She started pursuing her PhD at the University of Maryland at College Park (UNCP) in Washington DC at the age of 20. Three years later, she became the youngest intern at the IMF; and it was then that she realized her career objective was to join this global financial organization. In 2001, she received her PhD and soon after became one of the youngest economists to join the IMF.
When counting the biggest milestones in her life, the leading economist holds in high regard being able to come back to Egypt to play a role in the government in 2005, working at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) at a time of political and economic transformation. Despite enjoying and excelling at her job at the IMF, she quickly responded to an offer by the then-Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin to return to Cairo and participate in the CBE’s reform effort.
“Here was the perfect opportunity for me to implement in my own country what I had been advising policy makers to do in other nations, thus becoming a policy maker myself,” Mashat says in her biography chapter, featured in the book, Daughters of the Nile: Egyptian Women Changing Their World.
She joined the CBE at the age of 30, and a few years later, in 2012, became the youngest subgovernor in CBE’s history. “Serving Egypt by contributing to policies that would make the riches of the Nile flow to all its citizens is not only a mission, it is a passion,” she says.
After 11 years of managing Egypt’s economic transition, Mashat returned to the IMF in August 2016 at a management-level job, to become involved in supporting the IMF’s multilateral surveillance activities across emerging markets all over the world. “I think the experience I had was always to surprise people on the upside by being a capable, Arab woman,” Mashat says, stressing how Egyptian women have, on more than one occasion, changed the perception about Arab and Middle Eastern females of not being very vocal or keen on education.
Through her work in the IMF, Mashat is also part of a more global agenda to emphasize the impact of having more gender equality in the workplace on economic growth in different nations.
“IMF’s latest research has shown that women’s participation in the labor force is macro critical,” Mashat says, pointing to “a recent global recognition that women have not been made use of effectively, in an economic way.”
“I think that there is a sincere focus by the management in Egypt on trying to put competent women in key positions,” she argues. “Many of them are passing the test, creating very good role models for the younger generations to invest education and dream of fulfilling a goal.”
“To all Egyptian girls, continue to invest in your education. The world is very competitive and what you know is what distinguishes you from anyone else.”—Rania Al-Mashat
This article is part of Egypt Today’s campaign “Break the Silence ... Say No to Violence” marking the 16-Day campaign of activism against gender-based violence GBV from November 25 to December 10. In a series of articles we document the journey of inspirational women who made it to the top in the world of development and NGOs including, Rania al-Mashat, International Monetary Fund (IMF) advisor, Shaden Khallaf, senior policy advisor for the Middle East and North Africa Bureau at the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Azza Karam, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) senior advisor and Jacinthe Rihan, Program Area Manager for Greater Cairo and Delta at Plan International Egypt.