In July 2020, the IFC launched a new program called “Closing The Gender Gap Accelerator” to help boost women’s employment in Egypt. In 2019, only 24% of women who were of age to work participated in Egypt’s labor economy, versus 75% of working-age men. It is critical that women are included in the workforce, as the inclusion of women in a country’s workforce greatly boosts a country’s GDP. Private sector companies must realize the potential of women to spur economic growth, especially in the time of recession caused by the ongoing pandemic.
Private Sector Partnership
Therefore, one of the main goals of this program is to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors. The diversity of businesses brought in will provide the necessary local insight and planning to make this project successful. The IFC will be partnering with an Egyptian business association to create this platform for working women and their peers that raises awareness and shares knowledge, as well as improves women’s access to jobs.
From the private sector, four CEOs that have influence over a large spectrum of businesses will lead the Accelerator. Representatives from the private sector include the Commercial International Bank (CIB), Qala’a Holdings, Travco Group International and Delta Investment Holdings. From the public sphere, the program will be led by the Ministry of International Cooperation and the National Commission for Women (NCW).
Egypt is the first country in the African and Middle Eastern region to launch a program that collaborates between the public and private sectors to take action on economic gender parity. As the title “Closing The Gender Gap Accelerator” suggests, the program focuses on four objectives to accelerate gender parity in the workforce in Egypt.
These objectives are: preparing women for the working world post-COVID-19 pandemic, closing gender gaps in salary, getting more women to participate in Egypt’s workforce and advancing women in the workforce to take part in more leadership and management positions. This program is a three-year initiative that came about as a solution to the serious threats posed to women’s engagement in Egypt’s economy during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The program plans to help make businesses more resilient and inclusive, especially during a crisis.
According to the Ministry of International Cooperation, “The Accelerator is designed to identify key economic gender gaps, develop public and private-sector interventions for narrowing these gaps and commit relevant stakeholders from both sectors to a three-year action plan.”
A recent study showed that Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP) could jump 32% if the gender gap in the labor market narrowed. Currently, the gender wage gap stands at 22% with women being paid less for the same work as men. With this commitment from both sectors of the country’s economy, it is hopeful that not only will Egypt’s GDP be raised, but there will be great strides taken towards economic gender parity in African and Middle Eastern regions.
– Giulia Silver