11 December 2017 04:20 AM

2017…Year of Egyptian Woman

Wednesday، 15 March 2017 - 03:32 PM

The State ensures achievement of equality between woman and man in terms of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. President Abdel Fattah Al- Sisi, since assuming office, has been very keen on supporting girls and women of Egypt. In a step exceeding the hopes and aspirations, the President declared 2017 a year of the Egyptian woman. This was deemed as a revival of hopes of the Egyptian woman for a better future for her and the whole homeland. The agenda of the new year grants the Egyptian woman more rights and gains and while taking measures that ensure her fair civil and political rights and representation in all decision - making positions: in political parties, trade unions, civil society organizations, and state’s institutions, either legislative, executive or judiciary, especially after the appointment of the first woman as governor in February 2017.

The Egyptian Woman in 2030:

The launch of 2017 as a year of the Egyptian woman is an idea that was agreed upon and adopted by President Al-Sisi. It is going to be launched in a conference in March 2017, where the strategy of the Egyptian woman in 2030, stemming out from the agenda of sustainable development, will be launched. This agenda consists of five strategic pivots, namely the political and economic empowerment, societal protection, and the cultural and legal pivots. The plan will be submitted to Egypt’s partners in the development process within the context of the government’s support for women.

The National Council for Women (NCW) seeks that the woman in 2017 will assume the decision- making positions; such as judicial posts, and that the elder and breadwinners and those with disabilities shall receive greater interest.  

The Egyptian Woman Post- June 30, 2013

It could be surely said that the Egyptian woman in the era of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has received significant attention; and this was manifested in the first speech of the President after winning the presidential elections, when he promised that woman shall have a role in political life, and a fair share in the House of Representatives, and that obstacles facing her in the executive posts shall be overcome. Four female ministers have already been appointed in the first government under President Al-Sisi, headed by Ibrahim Mahlab. They are: Dr. Laila Iskandar, Minister of Urban Development and Slums, Dr. Nahed El-Ashri, Minister of Manpower, Dr. Ghada Wali, Minister of Social Solidarity, Dr. Naglaa Al-Ahwani, Minister of International Cooperation, tesides, Ambassador Fayza Abul Naga, who was appoiated the National Security Advisor of the President. She was the first Egyptian woman to hold such a high position by a presidential decree issued in November 2014. Furthermore, 3 women have got the title of "Deputy Governor", within the governors reshuffle in February 2015, namely Manal Awad Mikhail, Deputy Governor of Giza, and Jihan Abdel-Rahman, Deputy Governor of Cairo, and Soad Abdul-Rahman Al-Kholi, Deputy Governor of Alexandria. In the Government headed by Sherif Ismail, three women were appointed, namely Dr. Ghada Fathy Ismail Wali, Minister of Social Solidarity, Sahar Ahmed Mohamed Abdel-Moneim Nasr, Minister of International Cooperation, and Nabila Makram Abdel-Shahid Wasef, Minister of State for Immigration and Expatriates Affairs.

The Cabinet reshuffle, which was announced in February 2017, included nine new portfolios, one of which was occupied by Dr. Hala Helmy As-Saeed Younis, Minister of Planning, Follow-up and Administrative Reform. Furthermore, the Ministry of Investment and the Ministry of International Cooperation have been merged to become the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation headed by Dr. Sahar Nasr, thus keeping the woman at the figure of four ministries. Moreover, among the four deputies of the Ministries of Agriculture and Planning, Dr. Mona Mehrez, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Livestock, Fisheries and Poultry, in addition to Nadia Abdo, the  first woman assuming the post of Governor of Al-Behera in 2017. Further to the leading positions, Dr. Amani Abu Zeid assumed the post of Infrastructure and Energy Commissioner of the African Union. According to the classification of the Middle East version of Forbes, the Deputy Governor of Bank of England, Ne’mat Shafik, aka "Minouche", was the first among the most influential women. In addition, Egypt ranked 99th among 144 countries in occupying higher positions for women; and at the level of the Arab region, Egypt ranked fourth after Morocco among 14 Arab countries according to the 2016 report of the gender gap.

The Status of Women in Political Parties:

The status of women in political parties has witnessed a big development after the revolution, especially in the liberal parties. Many of the Egyptian parties have women committees especially the parties that have been recently created, for example, the Conservative Party confirmed that the number of its women members exceeds 51%. In spite of that, there are some reservations by women organizations and associations that the President's efforts concerning women’s participation and empowerment do not meet equal attention by the various levels of society.

Women in Elections … Striking Voting Power:

The first Parliamentary elections Post-June 30 Revolution has witnessed a marked increase in the proportion of women who wanted to an in the electoral battle, and their estimated rate was about 17.19%, where 949 candidates out of 5518   have challenged the electoral battle.

The number of parliamentary female members reached 90 in the incumbent Parliament, 76 of which were elected, in addition to 14 appointed, at a ratio of 15% of the total number of the members. Moreover, the rate of women and girls voters has reached 55%.  

Egypt’s New Constitution ... Equitable for Women:

Egypt’s 2014 new Constitution, approved after June 30 Revolution is considered a positive step towards the adoption of women’s rights and citizenship; as it paid special attention to women, either in the preamble or in the articles. Furthermore, it stressed that the woman is not only a class of the society, but she is also half of the society, and constitutes the foundation of the family.

Article (6) of 2014 Constitution states that “Nationality is a right to anyone born to an Egyptian father or an Egyptian mother, and legal recognition through official papers proving his/her personal data, is a right guaranteed and regulated by Law. Requirements for acquiring nationality shall be specified by law. ".  Article (11) of the Constitution states that: “The State shall ensure the achievement of equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. The State shall take the necessary measures to ensure the appropriate representation of women in the Houses of Representatives, as specified by Law. The State shall also guarantee women’s right to holding public and senior administration offices in the State and their appointment in judicial bodies and authorities without discrimination. The State shall protect women against all forms of violence and ensure enabling women to strike a balance between family duties and work requirements. The State shall provide care to and protection of motherhood and childhood, female heads of families, and elderly and neediest women.”   While in Article (53), we find that “All citizens are equal before the Law. They are equal in rights, freedoms and general duties, without discrimination based on religion, belief, gender, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographic affiliation or any other reason.”  In addition, Article (80) of the Constitution achieves a major victory for Egyptian woman and provides a great solution to one of the issues facing her where it states the protection of the child and that the State shall endeavor to achieve the best interest of children, and consider anyone under the age of 18 as a child. This article finds a solution to the issue of underage marriage and prohibits it by farce of law. Furthermore, Article (89) stipulated that “All forms of slavery, oppression, and forced exploitation of human beings, and other forms of human trafficking are prohibited and criminalized by Law. Moreover, Article (93) states that" The State shall be bound by the international human rights agreements, covenants and conventions ratified by Egypt”.

Article (180) also came to achieve a qualitative distinction for women as it stipulates that “Every local unit shall elect a local council by direct and secret ballot for a term of four years. A candidate shall be at least twenty one Gregorian years of age. The law shall regulate the other conditions for candidacy and procedures of election, provided that one quarter of the seats shall be allocated to youth under thirty five years of age and one quarter shall be allocated for women”.

The Egyptian State Is on the Right Path towards the Empowerment of Woman:

- The Egyptian government has highlighted in several situations the need for paying attention to women’s issues and to throw light on the problems that she suffers. This has made, for the first time, the issue of woman’s empowerment a general target of the political leadership. This has prompted many of those who are interested in women’s issues to believe that women’s rights organizations and the State are moving side by side in one way towards the empowerment of woman and elimination of all forms of discrimination against her.

- Females represent about 49% of the total population. Statistical indicators of the status and conditions of work and workers, based on the results of the manpower research of 2015 showed that the volume of workforce reached 28.4 million individual in 2015 compared to 27.9 million in 2014, at an increase of 487 thousand people by 1.7%.  Moreover, the volume of workforce of males reached 21.7 million individuals in 2015 compared to 21.3 million in 2014, at an increase of 411 thousand individuals by 1.9%, and the volume of the labor force of females reached 6.7 million individuals in 2015 compared to 6.6 million in 2014, at an increase of 76 thousand individuals by 1.1%.

- Egypt ranked 132nd in the Gender Gap Index among 144 countries   according to the index of the World Economic Forum in 2016 compared to the place 136 in 2015, and was able to narrow the gap between males and females according to several indicators; notably the equality in salaries, and the presence of women in parliament and technical jobs, and the low female illiteracy rates.  Egypt has almost bridged the gap between males and females in terms of enrollment in primary and secondary education levels.

- For the eradication of illiteracy, the National Council for Women is working on specific governorates and villages to eradicate illiteracy completely according to a systematic plan in cooperation with UNESCO and the civil society through a program that focuses on reducing female illiteracy rates. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said that 9.3 million females are illiterate out of a total number of 14.5 million until 2015.

- The Report of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics has pointed out that according to data from the Ministry of Interior in 2015, the percentage of representation of women in the Social Trade Syndicate reached 61%, while their representation in trade unions in general reached 35.8%.  In addition, the rate of females working in the health and religious services sector is amounted to 57.1%, compared to 36.4% in the insurance and social affairs sector, 31.5% in the economy sector and 29.2% in the media sector. Generally, the rate of females who, work permanently reaches 87.3% against 64.3% of males.

- The participation of woman in trade unions was not new, for example, in the Syndicate of Journalists, women succeeded in 1941 in holding the membership of the Syndicate’s Council through elections. Furthermore, women have participated in the establishment of the Syndicate, as there were 3 female journalists within 100 journalists who founded the syndicate. The number of candidates applying nomination papers for the 2017 session reached 14 female journalists, 12 of which applied for the seats of membership of the council of the syndicate, and two of them for the seat of the chairman. While in the 2015 session, only two female journalists nominated against 55 male journalists.  The great writer , "Amina As-Saeed” was the first female journalist who took the job as editor in chief and the first deputy chairman of the Syndicate in 1959. She ran for the post of chairman of the syndicate but was unlucky, yet she performed duties of the job due to  resignation of Salah Salem, Chairman of the journalists that time.

- In the field of Islamic Da’wa, the Ministry of Religious Endowments “Awqaf” in 2017 has distributed the second batch of female preachers, whose number reached 156 in 19 governorates to give religious sermons and answer women’s questions.

 The National Council for Women … Enhancing and Protecting Women’s Rights:

- On February 1, 2017 the Cabinet agreed on the draft law for organizing the National Council for Women (NCW). The draft law consists of 26 articles. It stipulates that the job of the Council is to enhance, develop, and protect rights and freedoms of women by virtue of the constitution provisions, the agreements and international covenants ratified by Egypt. 

- The Council made many achievements, on top of which is the “Knock the Door” campaign under the slogan “Support your Country strongly … For your Good” in all villages of Egypt. This campaign targets the women’s support to economy, enlist the most harmed villages in all governorates to help the afflicted families, and pay field visits to the regions subjected to flood to decide the due preventive procedures that were taken to face the crisis, solve problems of women in slums, establish a complaints office in addition to “Safe Cities” initiative that aims at creating an atmosphere free from harassment and violence against women.  

- In the Women’s Year, the Council seeks to set up a commission against discrimination rather than the community’s awareness of the importance of women’s role. This is done through a campaign, whose followers reached about 40 million and the council seeks to complete it during 2017. Moreover, the Council, in cooperation with other agencies, issued about 100 thousand IDs for women in villages, countryside and Upper Egypt. However, there is a plan to issue about 500 thousand IDs for free.

Women in Local Councils and Knock -Door Campaigns:

- The (NCW) prepared a data for the women, who wish to run in the local election. They reached 4000 until now. This is achieved through its activities, communication with state institution, and its branches in all governorates, female members of the House of Representatives and different parties as well as the civil society in all governorates.  

 The Most Prominent Laws Due to Be Finished in 2017:

- The (NCW) presented some draft laws, on top of which are the Law of Violence against Women, the Code of Personal Status Law, Inheritance Law, and the NCW Law that was sent to the State Council, and followed by the Law of Violence against Women and the Personal Status Law.

Economic Empowerment Strategy in Women, Year:

The NCW revealed the recent statistics about the women of Egypt, which showed that more than third of the families are supported by women, some of which are responsible for spending on their families, despite the presence of the husband. The (NCW) also reveals that the percentage of small enterprises that targeted the women is 22%, and will be raised to 50% in accordance with the strategic plan of the Council. The Council seeks to provide all means of support for women through cooperation protocols with the Ministry of Solidarity, and the small complementary enterprises and how to get a loan to start. It also focuses on working with the private sector as it absorbs many women.

- The number of small enterprises concerning women  funded by the Social Fund for Development(SFD) during the period from 1992 until June 2016 reached about 106.472 at a rate of 27% of the total number of enterprises, with  total funding of about L.E 4 billion. While the number of microenterprises funded by the (SFD) concerning women during the same period reached about 1,125,594 at a rate of 56% of the total number of enterprises, with total funding of about L.E 3.1 billion.

- The Ministry of Social Solidarity launched an initiative through the "National Institution for Family Development” that is affiliated to the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and allocated L.E 20 million for the year 2017 to fund the microenterprises through the civil societies, on top of which are the Cottage Industry Families Associations and Society Development communities licensed by the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA).

- A law was issued to amend some provisions of Law No. 11 of 2004 to establish a family insurance fund, in order to increase the fund’s resources to cope with the steady increase in providing money, which led to a on rise in the Fund’s resources. Moreover, allocated money for divorced women against the regained money from ex-husbands that, as reached L.E 520 million, the collected expenditure reached L.E 272 million, the number of judgments reached 153,563, and the number of beneficiaries reached 262,160.On the other hand, L.E 250 million has been allocated to develop nurseries to be safe place, to allow women to go out for her work.

- Women are the main nerve in the process of economic development that is taking place in Egypt now, and to keep pace with President Abdel Fattah Al- Sisi’s announcement that 2017 is the year for Egyptian woman, “Egypt’s Women in Energy Conference” was held in Cairo on February 16, 2017. This is within the events of Egypt’s International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, to discuss the growing role of women and bridge the gap in the field of energy between the two genders. However, the sessions reviewed the technical and practical challenges faced by labour women in the energy sector and how they succeeded to take leadership positions.

Egyptian Women in International Cooperation Projects:

The Ministry of International Cooperation intensifies grants for the council’s projects. It has provided grants worth L.E 40 million in the fields of women’s empowerment, through the UN Framework Convention for Partnership and a number of development partners, including the Middle East and North Africa Transition Fund. The new strategy of the United Nations with Egypt focused on bossting support for women. However, the Ministry of International Cooperation is working to fund projects that support the breadwinner women in many villages and governorates, especially the most needy.

“Women… Partners of Success” Conference:

- This Conference was inaugurated to invest opportunities of communication between businesswomen for the growth of business at the headquarters of the Arab League on February 19, 2017. This conference aimed to establish an office to facilitate the businesswomen from Egypt and other Arab countries. Moreover, cooperation protocols have been signed with businesswomen associations in Jordan, Bahrain, and Erbil. The businesswomen organizations from more than 19 countries including USA, Canada, Germany, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, France, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Italy, and the Netherlands have attended the conference.

Cairo Declaration ... Constructive Strategies for Women’s Health:

In the context of interest in women’s health, the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population launched the International Medical Conference for the Health of Arab Women under the slogan "Your Health is Our Priority", which included Cairo Declaration on the sidelines of the Arab Health Ministers ' Conference held on February 28 to March 1 under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah Al- Sisi. The Cairo Declaration included constructive strategies to promote health awareness and reduce the risk of chronic diseases of women, including the prevention of violence and her empowerment through education, creating job opportunities, and improving her image in the media, and the rejection of all malpractices against her, as well as women’s health strategy through reproductive , mental health and non – communicable chronic diseases. The aim of this Declaration is the equality and justice between both  genders.

- There is a cooperation between the (NCW) and the Ministry of Health and Population for upgrading of Egyptian woman’s health in the villages of Nasr Al Nuba and Kom Ombo through medical convoys that received nearly half a million patients and nearly one hundred thousand women in the age of childbearing, and all these services are provided for free and at the State expense. These medical convoys included clinics in all medical specialties and clinics for early detection of breast cancer. Ten civil societies and the Eradication of Illiteracy and Adult Education Organization have participated in preparing these convoys, where they targeted providing family planning services.

The National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women:

The cost of economic violence against women in Egypt is estimated at about L.E 2.5 billion annually, and the (NCW) organized workshops in Port Said, Suez and Damietta governorates in January 2017 to monitor the implementation of the national strategy to combat violence against women, which was launched in July 2015 and discussed the coordination mechanism among the Council, the ministries and agencies concerned in each governorate in addition to the renewal of the strategy’s vision. The Ministry of Interior has established a department to combat violence against women in May 2013. 

Cinema in Women’s Year ... Distinctive Festivals:

As a special artistic beginning for the Women’s Year, Aswan International Women Film Festival from February20 to 26, was launched specifically for women to be the first of its a kind that represents women from an artistic and moral perspective. This festival expresses the vitality of Egypt, and how it possesses the ability to regenerate, produce art and thought even in the most difficult circumstances. This new film festival has chosen the ancient beautiful city of Aswan, and its first session tackled violence against women.

A cooperation protocol has been signed between the festival and the (NCW) to allocate an annual award on behalf of the Council. The festival sets a condition that the presented films must deal with issues concerning women or to be of women’s creativity (director or writer) and to be produced in 2015 or 2016.

It is obvious from this outlook that great hopes are pinned in the Women’s Year, and the comprehensive development cannot be achieved in our society without a positive participation of women, for being half of the society. The State seeks to activate her contribution in public life and to adopt policies that lead to strengthen her status economically and socially through an integrated strategy.

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