What awaits Egyptian women in 2020?

Nehal Samir
10 Min Read

The start of a new decade carries hope for further women’s empowerment. A new year has just started, bringing women in Egypt new hopes for ending violence against them, improving their conditions. Daily News Egypt dug into the major events that scheduled to take place in Egypt in 2020.

New personal status law

Egypt’s government announced in October that a new personal status law is being prepared by a committee at the Ministry of Justice.
The committee is scheduled to complete the final draft of the bill by the beginning of 2020, before sending it to the cabinet for approval, before being referred to parliament.
Different suggestions are sent to Al-Azhar to decide if they are relevant to Islam, focusing on some points like the child custody age, visitation rights, and travel permission. They are also tackling polygamy to ensure that the first wife is informed of a new marriage, and that men who remarry without informing their wives are punished with six months’ imprisonment.
Among the suggestions are criminalising customary marriage and the total cancellation of the articles regulating wives’ obedience.
Al-Azhar, the National Council of Women, the Wafd Party, and others have suggested laws covering the engagement period, and regulating financial aspects in case of the engagement’s annulment, like the gifts exchanged.

Presenting results for Egypt’s National Strategy for Prevention of early Marriage 2015-2020

In 2015, Egypt endorsed the National Strategy for the Prevention of Early Marriage 2015-2020, which aims at reducing early marriage rates in 2020 by half of those in 2015. The monitoring report is planned to be presented in 2020, which will analyse successes and challenges, and suggest methods for course correction as needed.

The results of the Egypt Economic Cost of Gender Based Violence Survey 2015 revealed that 21% of women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. It is worth noting that Article 80 of the Egyptian Constitution commits the State to protect a child’s best interest, defined as anyone who is under the age of 18 years, which implicitly prohibits marriage of young girls.

Reviewing the results of Egypt’s National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women 2015-2020

In 2015, the National Council for Women (NCW) launched the National Strategy for Combating Violence Against Women (NSVAW). NSVAW was developed in response to a decade-long organising and struggle of feminist groups, for the state to bear its responsibility in combating gender-based violence through “a comprehensive long-term scheme”. NSVAW addresses violence against women under four headings: prevention, protection, interventions, and prosecution. Each heading comprises a number of sub-goals pertaining to the area of work of 12 different ministries, and authorities.

NSVAW was to be implemented over five years, from 2015-2020.

It is expected that the NCW will review the results of this strategy, describing where Egypt stands currently on violence against women.

Third phase of women’s health campaign to kick off

Under the slogan “Egypt’s Women are Egypt’s health,” the first phase of a Presidential campaign to support women’s health began in nine governorates in July 2019.
The nine govenrorates include, South Sinai, Matrouh, Port Said, Alexandria, Beheira, Damietta, Qalyubiya, Fayoum, and Assiut.
The second stage of the initiative kicked off in November and included Cairo, North Sinai, Red Sea, Kafr el Sheikh, Ismailia, Suez, Menoufia, Beni Suef, Sohag, Aswan, and Luxor.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, 2.1 million women were examined in the first stage of the campaign while 315,034 women have been checked in the second stage until end of November.
The initiative targets 28 million women over the age of 18 and will be carried out in three stages. The third stage is expected to be launched in early 2020.

The duration of the checkup is 15 minutes, preceded by a 30-minute awareness lecture on methods of disease detection, home inspection, healthier lifestyles, and reproductive health.
It includes medical tests of diabetes, blood pressure, and weight checks.

First intitiative for Pregnant Women’s Health to kick off in January

Days ago, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said the government launched an initiative for early detection and treatment of diseases and preventing mother-to-child transmission of infections during pregnancy.
The president ordered that the “Health of Pregnant Women” initiative to begin in January 2020 in compliance with the best standards for early diagnosis and treatment.
The president gave his directives during a meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait, and Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed.
Notably, it is considered the first time in Egypt to have a special initiative directed for pregnant women’s health.

Further empowerment for Women in CIFF

In 2019, the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) announced signing the Gender Parity Pledge 5050×2020, becoming the first Arab festival (and second African) to join this commitment launched during Cannes Film Festival in 2018. Starting its 42nd edition in November 2020, CIFF is committed to promote gender equality and transparency. The festival will publicly announce the percentages of women participating in the film programming and selection teams, in addition to the percentage of films submitted by female directors and ones selected in the official programme, which of course supports more representation of women in cinema, either in front or behind the cameras.

According to CIFF’s President Mohamed Hefzy, Egypt is keen on female representation in all areas of life and specifically in cinema.
“By joining this pledge we are confirming a strong position that we have adopted since 2018`s edition when we celebrated 8 Arab filmmakers outstanding careers and impact on Arab cinema: Hala Khalil’s “Nawara” (Egypt), Hala Lotfi’s “Coming Forth By Day” (Egypt), Mai Masri’s “3000 Nights” (Palestine), Annemarie Jacir’s “Wajib” (Palestine), Haifaa Al-Mansour’s “Wadja” (Saudi Arabia), Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Beauty and the Dogs” (Tunisia), Sofia Djama’s “The Blessed” (Algeria) and Nujoom Al-Ghanem’s “Sharp Tools” (UAE),” he said.

Of course, when increasing women’s representation in the CIFF, all the directors in dramas and cinema should follow.

Women Economic Forum comes to Egypt for first time

The Annual Women Economic Forum will be held for the first time in the Middle East in Cario on 4 to 5 March under the auspices of Egypt`s President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi.
This event is expected to bring together over 1,000 women leaders from Egypt and around the world to tackle issues of employment, international trade, women in technology, finance, and much more.
This annual event has brought together over 100,000 inspiring women from across 150 countries during the past 25 years.

Earlier, the President of the NCW, Maya Morsi stated that this forum is a unique opportunity to gather women leaders in various fields from all over the world in one place, to exchange experiences and discuss the challenges and difficulties currently standing in their way, how to improve the status of women, and how to empower more of them.

She said “We are looking forward to achieving the best results from this forum which will be held for the first time in Egypt.”
“We’re extremely proud to be bringing the WEF to Egypt,” said Neamat Khalil, founder of The Worx for Events– the organising company.
“It is happening in the right place, at the right time. This is an era when Egyptian women are shining in leadership roles across a broad spectrum of sectors. The WEF 2020 in Cairo will showcase Egyptian, African, and regional success stories, create new networks and business matchmaking opportunities, and will also have a very strong tourism component,” she added. Finally, these were the major events that are scheduled to take place in Egypt in 2020 concerning women issues. But no doubt that the hopes of women are larger than these things. Women still hope for a 50×50 quota in parliament and in the cabinet. A woman’s dream cannot be briefed in one article.

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