Egypt is building back better and more resilient as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat.
The minister added that the country is also reforming and developing, despite the obstacles that the pandemic has brought upon the world. This includes efforts in addressing the gender gap issues that increased during the pandemic.
Egypt was the first country to provide a women-specific response, launched by the National Council for Women (NCW), during the pandemic.
The country ranked in first place in the Middle East and West Asia region with 21 policy measures aimed at women, according to the UNDP COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker.
Taking part in the World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Spring 2021 meetings, “Human Capital Ministerial Conclave: Investing in Human Capital for a Green Resilient and Inclusive Recovery”, Minister Al-Mashat addressed the steps Egypt has taken to progress and push its recovery forward.
Entering its third year, the Human Capital Project includes over 80 countries working to invest in human capital for a “green, resilient, and inclusive recovery”.
In this particular virtual webinar, panellists discussed the impact of the pandemic on widening inequality, the necessity of social protection systems for resilient recovery, and the transition towards green economies and sustainability.
Minister Al-Mashat said that Egypt has taken significant steps in closing inequality gaps in several ways, such as the social safety net project Takaful and Karama.
The Minister explained that this conditional and unconditional cash transfer programme is among Egypt’s largest investments in human capital development, as it supports vulnerable families.
The Egyptian Government has also ensured economic empowerment to women, through with the project of Kemama, a community based initiative.
It was developed in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the El Nidaa Foundation, to engage Egyptian women from Upper Egypt to produce medical face masks.
Despite the trying times, the project has managed to both provide jobs for women, and produce over 3,000 masks daily.
Minister Al-Mashat said that the current global transition to digital has a multiplier effect on job creation, leading to the delivery of a circular economy in the future. This is especially through the development of a solid, sustainable, and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem.
As education is centred around digital literacy, the current workforce in Egypt is being reskilled to adapt to the changes in order to fit in the new work opportunities that will surface in the coming years.
“Egypt is increasingly becoming the region’s entrepreneurial hub for its majority of young population, who are agile, adaptive, talented, and innovative,” Minister Al-Mashat said.
She also noted that, through public-private sector dialogue and partnerships, there is a heavy emphasis on raising Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs).
The Minister said that small businesses drive the economy in many ways by opening job opportunities, and by bringing innovative leadership and solutions to the table.