Gender Inequality in Egypt
Egypt is a country famous for its robust capital city and majestic monuments, reminiscent of the sophisticated ancient civilizations that it once cultivated. However, the country has struggled to alleviate gender disparities, and gender inequality in Egypt has placed its ranking 134th out of 153 countries according to the Global Gender Gap Index. Despite these numbers, Egypt has shown determination to eliminate gender discrimination domestically and worldwide by aiming to provide more representation globally.

Egypt’s Advancements

Egypt recently made substantial steps forward in representing women not only domestically, but worldwide. Dr. Maya Morsy, the President of Egypt’s National Council for Women, was elected to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for 2023-2026. The Committee’s goal is to eliminate all forms of gender discrimination against women and uplift them by recognizing women’s rights through new laws and providing more opportunities. The Committee contains 23 members who are qualified experts in women’s issues.

Dr. Morsy’s significant accomplishment follows the Committee’s previous ruling in 2021 that Egypt would no longer be considered in a state of emergency and that the progress of eliminating gender inequality since 2010 showed great improvement in equality within Egyptian civil society.

Dr. Morsy presented the combined eighth to tenth periodic reports of Egypt to the Committee in 2021 and claimed the creation of a new era for eliminating gender discrimination began with the June 2014 election of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. With this election, women became a major focus of Egypt’s National Human Rights Strategy.

In the conclusion report that lifted Egypt from its state of emergency, the Committee praised new key national strategies for its contribution to alleviating gender inequality in Egypt, including acclaim for its 2014 Constitution. It created more opportunities for women in civil, social, political and economic sectors.

Gender Inequality in Egypt’s Workforce

The labor force of Egypt is predominantly male. In 2020, only 18% of women able to work participated in the labor force while 65% of working-age men participated, according to USAID.

According to the World Bank, Egypt-specific studies have predicted that the GDP would rise by 34% if the labor force participation of women was as high as men. GDP is a rough estimate of a country’s standard of living. Because of this, an increase of women in the workforce has a high potential to boost the Egyptian economy and reduce poverty.

The Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics reported that the poverty rates between 2015 and 2018 rose dramatically from 27.8% to 32.5%. This hike in poverty led to the less general consumption of goods and services such as education and health care. Increasing the labor force participation rate of women could ultimately positively affect the economy of Egypt while also destigmatizing their presence in the workplace and civil society.

Stepping Forward

Egypt has made tremendous advances toward eliminating gender inequality within its country. The appointment of Dr. Maya Morsy to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women demonstrates Egypt’s dedication to the pivotal issue. Domestically, the creation of more freedoms, such as financial equality, broader property rights and universal access to reproductive health care is reflected in initiatives such as the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women for 2016-2030. In addition, the government saw an increase in the proportion of women in senior management positions to 24.1%.

In Egypt, the future of opportunity expansion for women, according to the current progress in eliminating gender discrimination, appears hopeful and experts such as Dr. Maya Morsy intend to enact change globally.

– Caroline Zientek
Photo: Flickr

Gender Inequality in Egypt
Gender inequality has been an important issue in Egypt for centuries. There are many organizations that recognize how important gender inequality in Egypt is for the economic growth and development of the country. There are many forms of gender inequality that are expressed daily, such as the limitations on women in economic participation, sexual harassment, gender-based violence and unequal access to education.

The Wide-Ranging Effects of Gender Inequality in Egypt

Egypt ranks 136th out of 145 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index. Gender inequality in Egypt is most prominent in the low rate of female participation in the labor force. It is estimated that 26 percent of women participate in the workforce, compared to 79 percent of men. The average yearly income for women in Egypt is $5,218 versus an estimated $17,353 per year for men. This disparity is also seen in literacy rates, which are estimated at 65 percent for women versus 82 percent for men.

The major obstacles to decreasing gender inequality in Egypt are related to economic participation and opportunity, education, health and political empowerment. According to the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, 92 percent of women interviewed between the ages of 15 and 49 had experienced female genital mutilation. This is a major issue that underlies gender inequality in Egypt.

Global Partnerships Work to Empower Women

Gender inequality is recognized as an issue that inhibits the growth of the entire country. There are several organizations that are developing partnerships and programs that work to empower women and foster growth. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has developed the Sustainable Development Goals that focus on increasing women’s access to social, economic and legal rights. In 2015, the Egypt Network for Integrated Development developed the One Product One Village program to train women in several trades, including handloom embroidery, alabaster, leather accessories, sand pottery, general carpentry and laser cutting.

UNDP has partnered with Microsoft to create programs that address gender inequality in Egypt. One program, known as the Mentorship Program, mentors young women to help them develop a career path. In addition, the Social Innovation Hub was launched at the National Council for Women, which aims to bridge the gap between public education and job market needs. This organization is also a part of the Aspire Women Initiative that empowers female leaders.

USAID has partnered with the Egyptian government to fight gender inequality by acting to remove the constraints on women’s participation in the economy, addressing sexual harassment and gender-based violence and improving access to education for young women. Since 2014, USAID has provided more than 600 scholarships to women seeking higher education. USAID has also developed programs to train community health workers to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, early marriage, domestic violence and female genital mutilation.

Gender inequality in Egypt has been an issue for centuries. However, there are many organizations that are partnering to end this growth inhibiting factor. The goal of ending gender inequality will help Egypt develop not only economically, but socially as well. The progress of these programs is notable, but there is still work to be done to completely eliminate gender inequality in Egypt.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr