Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat has launched a three-year advisory programme by the International Financial Corporation (IFC) to increase employment opportunities for women in Egypt.
The programme aims to highlight how private sector companies can tap into the country’s large and underutilised female talent pool, and spur economic growth as a result.
According to Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW), the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic poses a serious threat to women’s engagement in economic activities in Egypt.
The programme’s main objective is to encourage private sector companies to better engage women in the labour market, which is essential to boost economic growth.
“The participation of women is macro–critical. It is no longer lip service, and all stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as international financial institutions, are coming together to progress towards gender parity,” Al-Mashat said. “We see its quantifiable impact on GDP, productivity and as a catalyst to push the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals forward.”
The programme would work on fostering more flexible workplaces for women to help Egyptian businesses attain greater resilience and inclusivity, especially in times of crises.
Al-Mashat stressed that pushing the gender agenda through multilateralism is of top priority for the Egyptian government.
“We are proud that Egypt is the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch the ‘Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator’, a private public platform for collaboration to reach gender parity, with the World Economic Forum,” stated the Minister.
Within this context, the IFC will partner with an Egyptian business association to create a peer-learning platform to raise awareness, share knowledge and improve women’s access to jobs. The programme will also be implemented in partnership with the government of the Netherlands, part of a broader effort aimed at private sector development in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Creating economic opportunities for women in Egypt is a strategic priority for IFC,” said Walid Labadi, IFC country manager for Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
He added, “Private sector companies are starting to realise the potential of the female workforce to overcome skill and talent shortages and spur economic growth. More flexible, remote and family-friendly working arrangements benefit companies and support both their female and male employees.”
The IFC is also working with several leading companies under the programme for developing an action plan upon collecting gender disaggregated human resources and company data and analysing gender gaps in their workforce in order to help close these gaps. These include healthcare provider IDH, retailer Metro Markets, and Banque Misr.