Maya Morsy - Egypt Today
CAIRO – 26 December 2017: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced earlier this year that 2017 will be the “Year of the Egyptian Woman”.
What major women's issues has Sisi addressed in the last year? To what extent has the status of Egyptian women improved? What exactly happened in the “Year of the Egyptian Woman”? Egypt Today gives a detailed summary, reflecting on actions taken and policies implemented to better women’s lives in Egypt in 2017, presented by Maya Morsy, the president of the National Council of Women (NCW).
Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Bank of Egypt
Morsy announced that the National Council of Women has signed the first ever Memorandum of Understanding with the Central Bank of Egypt.
“When I say here the first ever I mean the first ever worldwide, there is no National Women Council around the world that has signed a memorandum with central bank pertaining financial inclusion of women,” said Morsy.
CBE is helping NCW to have more women financially included in banks and on the Boards of Directors.
(Taa Marboota: The secret of your power) campaign
The campaign has reached out to more than 43 million women, competing in numbers with several international campaigns.“The Campaign went to women on the ground, reaching 500,000 women on the ground, face-to-face delivering to them the campaign messages,” Morsy affirmed. She explained that the campaign is divided into four parts. The first part is violence against women and sexual harassments in the streets. The second part is about women decision-making support.The third phase of the campaign was related to women in Parliament. Morsy explained, “This part is about making the whole society accept and realise women’s existence in Parliament, women running in elections and their success is a vital matter; [women] actually present a lot of problems related to women in society, in addition to other problems of the whole society.”
The fourth part aims to raise awareness about violence against women. “We asked Egyptian women to speak up and stop feeling that they are not supported,” stated Morsy.NCW added a fifth part to the campaign a couple of weeks ago with the target to make all Egyptian women strongly believe in themselves; that they can work and be in the labour market to increase their income. "We cannot live in a country that only has 25 percent of its women in the labour force, what about the remaining 75 percent?" Morsy explained that with the current economic challenge we have to encourage more and more women to enter the labour market.“This campaign succeeded because it treats the Egyptian woman as a strong person. The whole society should treat women as strong human beings; Egyptian women are really strong, even the poorest of the poor women are strong, because they can handle all these challenges with strength,” Morsy noted, proud that the NCW has succeeded in 2017 to reach 2,664,000 Egyptian women.
"Adam el-Kheir" project and other economic empowerment projects
Morsy explained that in this project there are 18,000 women who saved LE 8 million in four governorates, including Beni Suef, Minya, Asyut and Sohag. "Strong Egyptian women in these governorates did not only save money but they also established from their savings 3,977 projects. So, imagine how with this simple technique Egyptian women can really make a big difference and be economically empowered," Morsy recounted. "Adam el-Kheir" project is one of the projects that were not established in the Year of Egyptian Women but whose fruits were reaped by women during 2017.
Morsy added that NCW has another five economic empowerment projects on the ground related to handicrafts in Fayoum, Giza, Cairo, Beheira, Aswan and Damietta, reaching out to 37,000 women. "We want to increase the quality of the products so that it could be first exported, second well priced, third needed by the market and fourth well packaged to be appealing for the customers," Morsy said.
Economic empowerment as recounted by Morsy is extremely important in the NCW’s strategy to transfer Egyptian women from financial illiteracy to financial inclusion.
Developing the code of ethics and establishing National Women Observatory
Morsy illustrated that it was very important to develop a code pertaining how women are being portrayed in the media, including in movies and Ramadan soap operas. "We established this year a National Women Observatory that was running throughout Ramadan. Its main target is to watch all the television series, monitor and observe how Egyptian women are portrayed in these soap operas, with the aim of identifying where the positive images and where the negative images are and why," explained Morsy.
Unfortunately, most of the women examples that were portrayed in the soap operas were bad examples, including unethical decision-makers, corrupted lawyers, or female sex workers. So, we decided to present this code of ethics in the year of women. After Ramadan, the NCW developed a code of ethics or a protocol on how the media should handle and deal with women’s image.
"Knocking Door" campaign
NCW developed a "Knocking Door" campaign in the year of women that reached out to one million Egyptian women in 1,000 villages, covering the 27 Egyptian Governorates. "My dream is to go to every single village in Egypt, reach all Egyptian women, talk to each one of them, give them the targeted messages as well as the needed level of awareness, because it is very comfortable and useful when there is dialogue," Morsy said.In the year of the women, NCW issued 300,000 fully free ID cards. Morsy explained, “Through this campaign we aim to help every Egyptian woman to solve her problems, establish her projects, and more importantly we target raising her awareness and making her feel that she is supported and that someone is beside her."