Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation hosted a signing ceremony, on Monday, relating to the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (KOICA) 2021-2024 Multilateral Cooperation Program for Gender Equality in Egypt.
The programme will be implemented in collaboration with UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in partnership with Egypt’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Council for Women (NCW).
The programme follows on from the South Korean Government’s earlier announcement designating Egypt as an official development assistance (ODA) priority partner country during the period of 2021-2025.
The Multilateral Cooperation Program includes the “Women’s Economic Empowerment in Egypt” project, implemented by UN Women in partnership with the NCW.
The aim of this project is to enhance women’s economic empowerment by facilitating decent job opportunities, access to skills development, and advocacy for creating an enabling environment in the community and the private sector. This is through the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
The targeted governorates through this project are Beni Suef, Alexandria, and Greater Cairo, and will have a particular focus on young women’s access to jobs.
The programme also includes the “Preventing and Combating Gender Based Violence in Egypt” project, implemented by UNFPA in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the NCW.
This project focuses on strengthening national protection and response systems and institutions in addressing gender-based violence and harmful practices. At the same time, it aims to enhance youth-led community awareness and knowledge around combating gender-based violence and harmful practices.
To ensure a coherent and comprehensive approach, the UNFPA project will target the three governorates targeted by UN Women, in addition to the governorates of Assiut, Qena, Sohag, and Mansoura.
In her remarks, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat stressed that social inclusion and providing equal opportunity for women and men is the only way to achieve sustainable economic growth.
It is also the only way for Egypt to achieve a better future and a more comprehensive economic and social environment, to ensure that everyone enjoys a decent standard of living.
She said that global studies have proven that women’s participation in the labour market in Egypt, being equal with men, increases gross domestic product (GDP) by 34%.
Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sports, highlighted his ministry’s cooperation with UNFPA, and the implementation of many projects with the aim of expanding the concept of sports practice.
These aim to give more opportunities for women in sports whilst empowering them, providing services to women and developing their skills.
The minister noted that this comes as part of the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ strategy, which aims to open up prospects for cooperation and investment with international institutions and organisations looking to support youth and sports projects.
NCW President Maya Morsy noted that the two agreements are important as they tackle two of the most important issues that the Egyptian state gives great importance to, namely: women’s economic empowerment; and the elimination of violence against women.
The NCW also pays great attention to these issues due to the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030, which was developed by the council and approved by President Al-Sisi, which stems from Egypt’s Vision 2030.
Hong Jin-wook, South Korea’s Ambassador to Egypt, said, “I am excited to announce the opening of a new chapter of development cooperation between South Korea and Egypt, along with valuable UN partners, in the year when Egypt has become one of the priority partner countries in terms of development cooperation.”
He added that his country has now become a partner to the Egyptian Government in combating gender-based violence and harmful practices, in addition to boosting women’s economic capability.
“I have no doubt that this partnership will be the significant cornerstone in building up the mutual relationship in various social and economic agendas between the two countries,” the ambassador said.
Frederika Meijer, UNFPA Representative in Egypt, said, “Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices is central to UNFPA’s upcoming strategic plan, and we are looking forward for KOICA’s support to this goal.”
“We are grateful for our partnerships with the Ministry of International Cooperation, the NCW, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports,” Meijer added, “Women’s economic empowerment is crucial for achieving gender equality, and through the new programme, UN Women will strengthen opportunities to support Egyptian women’s, including young women’s, access to decent employment.”
Meijer said that the programme is grounded in Egypt’s vision that women’s protected and sustained employment in competitive markets is a crucial driver to the country’s national economic growth.
Christine Arab, Country Representative at UN Women Egypt, said, “Economically active women have greater decision-making capabilities in the home and community, positively impacting their own and their family’s wellbeing.”
She noted that the efforts that will be exerted through the Multilateral Cooperation Program are in line with the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030. This relates particularly to its three pillars on economic empowerment, social empowerment, and protection.
The programme contributes to the recently endorsed policy reforms in April 2021 by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. This relates to the areas of providing adequate response to violence against women in the workplace and the importance of coordinated response to survivors of violence.
It also contributes to the findings of the Report on the 2015-2020 National Strategy to Eliminate Violence against Women. This highlights the strengthening of the national referral pathway, the enhancement of integrated protection and response service delivery and the importance of behavioural change campaigns.
Additionally, it contributes to Egypt’s “Closing Gender Gap Accelerator,” a national platform and action plan under the broader World Economic Forum initiative, and led by the Ministry of International Cooperation, in partnership with the NCW.
The Accelerator is a platform, fostering greater public-private sector partnership to advance women’s economic empowerment in the country. The Accelerator’s focus includes, but is not limited to: equipping women for a post-novel coronavirus (COVID-19) job market; closing the gender wage and pay gap between and within sectors; increasing women’s participation rates in the labour force; and strengthening the effort for more women to advance into managerial and leadership roles