Cairo – Mubasher: The Minister of International Cooperation, Rania El-Mashat, discussed the role of women in the business sphere in J.P. Morgan’s “Women in Leadership Engagement Session” on 29 March.
“I was raised to be gender blind. The dilemma is not about being a woman or a man, it’s about who can do it better and strive for more. 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,” said El-Mashat in a statement on Monday.
In a session moderated by Alison Livesey, the Managing Director, Wholesale Payments: Global Market Management, Business Transformation and Strategic Execution, Western European Country Head, at J.P. Morgan, El-Mashat 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; we are constantly tested and pushed outside our comfort zone which necessitates that we remain vigilant and innovative in face of the constant change,” said El-Mashat.
Sharing her own experiences, El-Mashat stated that she was the youngest economist to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF), before being called by the Central Bank of Egypt to help in modernising and introducing frameworks of monetary policy for 11 years as sub-governor. In August 2016, El-Mashat went back to the IMF serving as an advisor to the chief economist at the time, and then in January 2018, she was appointed as Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, and now Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation.
Throughout her career trajectory, El-Mashat said that there are 4C’s she believes in wholeheartedly: 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; and in 2017, the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030 was adopted by the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-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.
Despite that COVID-19 had significant social, economic, physical, and health impacts globally that led to a widened gender gap amidst vulnerable groups in societies, gender equality is a necessity for any country to realise its full economic potential, the minister stressed.
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, 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 post the COVID-19 pandemic.
El-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.
There are around 34 projects, worth $3.3 billion being executed, in Egypt to achieve the targets of gender equality, with the top targeted sectors including health (20%), micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) (15%), and education (14%).
For the first time in history, 25% of the Egyptian Parliament seats are allocated to women, and there are eight crucial ministries led by women in the Egyptian cabinet. El-Mashat explained that there is a strong political will in Egypt to fulfil women’s constitutional rights and empower them economically.