Egypt is currently executing about 34 projects worth $3.3bn to achieve gender equality targets, according to Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat.
Al-Mashat said that the top targeted sectors include: health (20%); micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) (15%); and education (14%).
The minister’s remarks came during a recent session organised by J.P. Morgan, titled “Women in Leadership Engagement Session”.
She said that for the first time in history, 25% of the seats in Egypt’s Parliament have been won by women, and there are eight crucial ministries led by women in the Egyptian cabinet.
Minister Al-Mashat explained that there is a strong political will in Egypt to fulfil women’s constitutional rights and empower them economically.
“I was raised to be gender blind, and see the dilemma as not about being a woman or a man, it’s about who can do it better and strive for more,” she said, “Everyone can succeed, we just have to believe in ourselves and work on developing our skills set in order to be the best in what we wish to pursue.”
The minister spoke about her personal career trajectory, and the importance of the economic inclusion of women.
“The biggest challenge for any policymaker in today’s world is how quickly environments change, as we are constantly tested and pushed outside our comfort zone which necessitates that we remain vigilant and innovative in face of the constant change,” she said.
Sharing her own experiences, Minister Al-Mashat stated that she was the youngest economist to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF), before being called by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). Her move to the latter, where she served for 11 years as a sub-governor, was in order to help the institution modernise and introduce frameworks of monetary policy.
In August 2016, Minister Al-Mashat returned to the IMF where she served as an advisor to the chief economist at the time. In January 2018, she was appointed as Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, before going on to serve in her current role as the country’s Minister of International Cooperation.
Throughout her career trajectory, Minister Al-Mashat has said that there are 4C’s in which she believes wholeheartedly, namely: competence; connections; confidence; and charm.
By leading with passion and dedication, and by inspiring people to think innovatively, the 4C’s lie at the heart of personal and professional progress.
In 2014, the Egyptian Constitution established values of justice and equality that guarantee the rights of women in all aspects of life. In 2017, the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030 was adopted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, making Egypt the first country globally to launch a 2030 women strategy. This was followed by 2018 being declared the “Year of Women” in Egypt.
The significant social, economic, physical and health impacts globally of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a widened gender gap amidst vulnerable groups in societies.
Minister Al-Mashat said, however, that gender equality is a necessity for any country to realise its full economic potential.
Pushing for Gender Parity, the Ministry of International Cooperation launched the “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator” Action Plan in collaboration with the National Council for Women (NCW), the World Economic Forum, and the private sector.
The Action Plan lays down four key objectives: to close gender gaps in remuneration; advance more women into management and leadership positions; increase women’s participation in the labour force; and hardwire gender parity in the future of work following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Al-Mashat shared that the “Closing Gender Gap Accelerator” intends to push for more participation of women, especially in leadership and decision-making positions.
The 10-pillar action plan includes several tasks and sub-actions for all stakeholders to implement, bringing their own expertise to the gender agenda plan.
The pillars cover a wide array of fields where development is necessary to ensure women’s inclusion: empowering work regulations; leadership mentorship and protocols; educational reskilling and preparation; digitalisation of businesses; and social inclusion measures and policies.