The president of the National Council for Women Maya Morsy - Egypt Today
CAIRO – 28 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 provides a detailed summary, reflecting on actions taken and policies implemented to improve women’s lives in Egypt in 2017, presented by Maya Morsy, the president of the National Council of Women (NCW).
Entrepreneurship and social innovation
The National Council for Women is working on entrepreneurship and social innovation. "We have 18,000 women who had been trained to develop their entrepreneurship skills throughout all the Egyptian governorates," Morsy recounted.
NCW is presenting social services and helping women to reach certain social services. "In the year of women, we covered around 76,000 women."
NCW has reached out and worked with 30,000 women in the year of women, through initiatives, enhancing their intervention skills as well as other skills through workshops and other activities.
The narrative messages that NCW wants to deliver to the Egyptian women and the whole society in the year of women
1-Having a clear policy and strategy for women’s empowerment, announcing a clear road map and government policy orientation towards empowerment of women.
"I developed these narrative messages because this is where I want to brand Egypt. Egyptian women in this era are experiencing a different wave of development; this has to be announced, we have to really know where we are heading to. Now, we have a clear policy and strategy for women empowerment which we have already announced. This strategy is a road map for the government and there is also government policy orientation so we know quite well where we are heading."
2-Talk to the girls and women and give them the chance to express themselves and their demands. "Open a clear channel of communication with them; do not expect that they will come to you." (Knock the door strategy)
"We have to talk to the girls, and we are actually talking to the girls and women. It is very important to listen to them and know their demands, giving them the chance to express themselves."
3-Bring more women into power, they are the change agents and power is in number (Power of Presence strategy).
"I say to every woman do not be afraid; we have to give women the space and the chance to break the glass ceiling, and let them implement the power of presence strategy themselves, because this strategy is extremely important for women empowerment."
4- Encourage Women in non-traditional vocations; this will lead to ideational change and normalization of the concept that women can do all the jobs at all levels as equals to men. (Ideational Change strategy)
"Women can perform all kinds of jobs; if she is a taxi driver, she can do it; if she is a carpenter, she can do it; if she is an advisor to president on national security issues; she can do it; if she is a governor, she can do it. We want to reach the normalization of women in different vocations, job opportunities and advisory level work. That point is potentially important."
5- Encourage girls and women to use smart phones, computers and technology as this will help them to get access to resources and opportunities. (Access to technology and digital illiteracy strategy)
"We have to encourage them to use the latest technology. Yes, we cannot deny that there is high rate of illiteracy now, but even the illiterate women are using phones, so we have to give them the chance to use the latest technology; implementing the digital illiteracy strategy is crucial in this era."
6- Sensitization on equality, equal opportunities, respect, and accepting others at a very early age. (Sensitization in Early Childhood strategy)
"Early childhood awareness is a must; this should be imprinted in their minds. Respect and accepting others should be part of their lifestyle. We do not have to wait until they become youth to start discussing these vital issues with them; it has to be within their life system and included in their education.’’
7- Raise aspirations of girls and their parents and empower girls to make choices; it is their right to make their own choices. (Every Girl Counts strategy)
"Let women and girls think highly of themselves, and let them believe in themselves. If society is showing women and girls that they are weak and subordinate, they will be weak. Let them feel confident, and tell them they can do everything. We should empower women to make choices; we should give them a lot of opportunities, equal opportunities and equal rights. She has the right to make her own choices. We should not force our girls to get married at the age of 13 because she does not have the right to choose, we should not believe that it is her father’s choice. So, giving her the opportunity to make her life choices is a must."
8- Give proper value to women’s work, especially unpaid care work and work outside home. (Value women’s commitment and work strategy)
"Working women are playing very important multiple roles, so giving working mothers the respect they deserve, whether inside or outside their homes, is also important. Valuing women’s commitment and work is something we should aspire to."
9- Political will is very important.( Be Bold for the Change and Beware of the Backlash strategy)
"The political will is important at this stage, the backlash might come at any time and we have to be very much aware. We are not going to go backwards, we are moving forward only."
To what extent the year of women's achievements improved the image of Egyptian women abroad
Morsy admitted that there are problems in Egypt like anywhere else in the world. "Now, we have a policy and strategy to deal with the current challenges that we are trying hard to solve." She added that there is a lot of work in progress and NCW is committed to achieving change.
"The other thing is how we are portraying ourselves. It is extremely important to also show our Egyptian women role models who are in decision making positions; we should highlight the role of strong women in civil society." She explained that these women are creating continuous change on the ground.