The Egyptian National Railways (ENR), the National Council for Women (NCW), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are collaborating to make the Egyptian rail network safer for female passengers.
The partnership was launched in Cairo, on Thursday, and will create a public awareness campaign on gender called El Sekka Amman (“The (Rail)Way is Safe”). The campaign aims to combat sexual harassment on public transport in Egypt.
It marks a key milestone in efforts to provide secure train services adapted to the needs of all passengers.
El Sekka Amman is part of a larger, first-of-its-kind EBRD gender programme in collaboration with the ENR, and funded by Japan. It will help develop institutional capacity to identify, respond to, and manage gender-based violence on its services.
The campaign’s launch event was held under the auspices of Egypt’s Minister of Transportation Kamel El-Wazir. It was attended by ENR Chairperson Ashraf Raslan, NCW President Maya Morsi, and Founding Partner of CID Consulting, Laila Iskandar, who was formerly Egypt’s Minister of State for Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements, and Minister of State for Environmental Affairs.
The EBRD was represented by Managing Director of the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, Heike Harmgart, and Director of Gender and Economic Inclusion, Barbara Rambousek.
Harmgart said, “This campaign is a key milestone for Egypt, and we are very proud to reach it together with ENR, through the EBRD’s investment in infrastructure and strong local partnerships, including with the National Council for Women.”
She added, “Our joint efforts will help improve women’s access to transport and safe mobility, which is vital for their full integration and contribution to the economy.”
The awareness campaign includes billboards, promotional videos and new audio announcements that will be used on the Cairo-Tanta and Cairo-Menouf-Itay lines, two of the busiest train routes in Egypt.
It also includes an enhanced presence of volunteers to inform the public about the campaign, and the different ways of reporting harassment. In addition, passengers will be informed via social media, contributing to a more open dialogue about safe transport in Egypt.
The campaign will be complemented by measures to ensure sustainable outcomes and drive social change. These include a new customer service hotline for reporting harassment, improved signalling, and dedicated training for ENR staff and security personnel. The campaign and its associated measures have been designed in line with international best practice.
In recognition of its outstanding commitment to enhance women’s inclusion, the ENR has won the EBRD’s Environmental and Social Award for the second time in 2020, having previously won in 2018.
The ENR is the second-oldest railway company in the world, and is considered to be the backbone of passenger transport in Egypt, with about 1.2 million passenger journeys per day. By improving safety on trains and platforms, the ENR expects to increase the number of women travelling on its network by 3 percentage points, from 16.8% in 2015 to 19.8 % in 2022.
The joint engagement between the EBRD and the ENR to strengthen safety and security on public transport and to promote gender equality began in 2014. To date, the EBRD, together with donor support from Japan and the EBRD’s SEMED Multi-Donor Account, has supported the ENR’s long-term investment plan with over €400m.
The ENR plan looks to renew its ageing fleet and improve the safety and quality of passenger rail services. These investments also aim to support the company’s transformation into a more efficient operator.
The EBRD has invested over €7bn in 125 projects in Egypt to date. The bank’s areas of investment in the country include: the financial sector; agribusiness; manufacturing and services; and infrastructure projects such as power, municipal water and wastewater services, and transport.
The donors to the SEMED MDA are: Australia; Finland; France; Germany; Italy; the Netherlands; Norway; Spain; Sweden; Taipei; China; and the UK.