Cairo – Mubasher: The Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation and the National Council for Women with the World Economic Forum hosted the first multi-stakeholder platform on “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator”, the first in Africa and MENA region.
The platform brings together the international community and all stakeholders to ensure sustained commitment in achieving Goal 5, Gender Equality, of the 17 Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), so that all efforts are upscaled and coordinated with the purpose of creating real impact in the lives of women through development cooperation.
The virtual platform saw the participation of over 80 participants from the World Bank (WB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), French Development Agency (AFD), USAID and United Nations (UN) and its agencies, as well as foreign courts including the Embassy of UK, Canada, China, Korea, USA, Germany, and France, among others.
Minister of International Cooperation, Rania El-Mashat, noted that the accelerator, a public-private collaboration platform that helps governments and businesses take decisive actions on closing economic gender gaps, fosters more inclusion and engagement on the advancement of women.
“We want to achieve real impact in the economic participation of women in the economy, consistent with the objectives of the accelerator. Though there are so many projects happening on the ground, the accelerator programme will act as an international benchmark to help ensure that all efforts are coordinated and upscaled,” El-Mashat said.
To ensure better results, the accelerator creates a structure for all stakeholders to engage in three stages: initiate projects, facilitate discussions to prioritise actions according to key objectives and measure impact according to defined targets and metrics before final approval.
A key element is to support the private sector in playing a prominent role in formulating initiatives that can help increase women inclusion in the sector, the Minister added.
Initiate and Understand for Better Results
During the webinar, Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women, presented to the international community, an outline of the accelerator programme to help engage all development partners, helping understand shape innovative pathways for growth towards gender parity.
The presentation included the women policy reports and tracker issued on the policies and programmes by the Government of Egypt amid the COVID-19 pandemic, responsive to the needs of women. The tracker serves as a tool to help policymakers moving forward, documenting the coordinated efforts of the government and reflecting on these policies.
Maya Morsy highlighted that the accelerator is a full-fledged programme, which includes legislation and culture as cross-cutting pillars, as well as social empowerment, protection, and political empowerment.
“While economic empowerment is considered to be the main pillar, creating a safe environment in the world of work for women is vital to help achieve this,” said the President of the Egyptian National Council for Women.
Egypt is the first country to provide a women-specific response and tracker to Covid-19. Representatives from the World Economic Forum emphasised that Egypt provided a unique example that was provided within a “knowledge network”.
People at the core, Projects in action, and Purpose as the driver
During the meeting, Minister El-Mashat showcased a number of projects that recognise Egypt’s progress in achieving gender equality and catalyze for change, noting that it constitutes a cross-cutting theme in 34 projects worth $3.3 billion.
The top-targeted sectors through these projects are health, education, and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), constituting 20%, 14%, and 15% respectively, of gender-sensitive projects. They represent direct investments in building human capital, where women are amongst the main beneficiaries.
Based on the three People, Projects, and Purpose pillars, all projects are implemented through a people-centred development approach, that foster collaboration with all stakeholders to push forward the political, economic and social empowerment of women.
Coming together to progress towards ‘Gender Parity’
Cristina Albertin, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt, congratulated the Ministry of International Cooperation and the National Council for Women for the comprehensive briefing provided on the Gender Gap Accelerator, which enhances existing national frameworks and leverages the impact of the Women’s Results Group under the United Nations Partnership Development Framework (UNPDF). The U.N. Egypt is fully committed to support the Ministry of International Cooperation and the National Council for Women in the rollout of the first Gender Gap Accelerator in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Egyptian Women represent 50% of the population. Removing legal and social barriers, through partnerships under the accelerator, will have a direct impact on women’s active participation in the economy and hence growth and poverty reduction in Egypt,” said Robert Bou Jaoude, World Bank Operations Manager for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti.
Meanwhile, Beatrice Maser, MENA Regional Director at the International Finance Cooperation (IFC) stated that there are many programmes, in partnership with the Ministry of International Cooperation, that seek to improve the economic empowerment of women in collaboration with the private sector.
The IFC recently launched a new advisory programme to improve women’s employment opportunities in the Egyptian market through highlighting how private sector companies can tap into the country’s large female talent tool to spur economic growth. “Creating economic opportunities for women in Egypt is a strategic priority for IFC. We look forward to future projects under the accelerator that support inclusiveness in the workforce.”