addressing gender inequality in EgyptEgypt recently launched the “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator” to reinforce its stance on female economic gender discrimination. This initiative is a partnership between the World Economic Forum (WEF), National Council of Women, the Egyptian Government and the private business sector. The financial and human capital investment in this undertaking shows that the country is committed to addressing gender inequality in Egypt.

Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator

In 2019, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, International Cooperation and Investment, Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, signed a letter of intent along with the WEF and the National Council of Women to empower women. More than 48 million women represent this emerging countries’ population and the good news is that their involvement will expedite the growth of the economy and gather momentum in eliminating poverty.

Each party has a specific role in the program’s success. Businesses will be tasked with the presence of additional women in the workforce, equal pay and professional development. Other benefits included are extended maternity leave for either parent and subsidized childcare to offset barriers that will cause women to fall behind, lose their position or not enter the labor force.

Egypt’s government, which has invested more than $3 billion in this project, will incentivize strategies and track the program’s evolution. In addition, the legislature has the commitment of more than 90 businesses.

Objectives of the Accelerator

Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator’s mission has four objectives: eliminate the gender pay gap, ensure more women are promoted into business management roles, expand their growth in the workforce and make sure that women are poised to work in a society that is will be powered by the likes of digital technology and artificial intelligence along with robotics.

One of the co-chairs of the private sector for the Accelerator, the Commercial International Bank known as Qalaa Holdings, firmly believes in empowering women in the workplace and it has demonstrated that by having 25% of the company’s executive board and leadership positions filled by women.

While the Accelerator is focused on women’s success in the economy, it also takes into account how women are viewed in the male-dominated workforce. Creating a safe climate in companies is just as important so the unfair barometers that women are measured by have to be eliminated as well as dismantling the discriminatory behavior toward them.

Global Gender Equality

Egypt is one out of nine countries, and the first country in Africa to set in motion a project of this magnitude created by the WEF.  After more than 10 years of researching global gender inequality issues, WEF realized that it would take nearly 100 years for political gender parity to be achieved. Women comprise 50% of the global population in most countries and to purposely exclude them from the equation would seriously compromise a society’s overall economic and societal impact worldwide.

WEF’s Accelerators to Close the Gender Gap

To combat this shortcoming, WEF created accelerators and issued a challenge to nations that want to close the economic gender gap. Public and private entities form accelerators to be inclusive of women in business, from job recruitment to job promotions and work on eliminating prejudice against them. Each country is on a three-year timetable (countries start date varies) and the WEF preserves the global structure of the project while the countries operate independently in the communities.  So far, Iceland has seen the most success out of the nine participating countries, by consistently closing the gender parity gap for 11 consecutive years.

A Bright Future for Egyptian Women

The Accelerator is an important tool for addressing gender inequality in Egypt. This initiative is good news for the women of Egypt as it shows the country’s continuous commitment to removing societal hurdles that have unjustly smothered women’s attempts at succeeding in the economy and stifled their much-needed contribution to society.

-Kim L. Patterson
Photo: Flickr

Economic Gender Parity in EgyptIn 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.

Targeting Obstacles

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
Photo: Flickr