Egyptian Women always played vital roles in their society, they played great parts in peace and in wars , Egyptian women were pioneers in all fields of life such as Science, Politics, Art, Education and many other fields, to the extent that the first university built in Egypt was funded by the jewelry donated by Princess Fatma Ismail in 1908. There are very Prominent names like Om Kalthoum the great singer, Samira Mousa the Nuclear Physicist, and the list goes on. The Role played by Egyptian women is not a recent one. By Ancient times, women had the same basic human rights as men. Hatshepsut was the first female leader in history to rule a great empire for about 20 years, she has always been known to be a peaceful ruler that ensured economic prosperity and building but also kept the whole empire under control. So, when we talk about the empowerment of Egyptian woman, we are talking about regaining her position in society.
What is women Empowerment?
Empowerment in general, is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. Through the process, an individual becomes an agent of change. More simply put, it’s the “can do” factor, going from “I can’t” to “I can.” According to UNwomen, Empowering women in Particular to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities. The Women’s Empowerment Principles offer practical guidance to business and the private sector on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Importance of Women Empowerment
Today women struggle all over the world to be treated as fair as men, their way to success is always more difficult than men. In a lot of parts of the world, women are facing cruelty and overburden workload with lack of power and influence. Despite all that, women who are seeking empowerment are not just seeking equality or work, they are seeking sharing the responsibility economically and socially. That is why empowerment of women is an important goal in itself. Gender equality, better political, social, economic and health status will have great impact on the community. It is also essential for sustainable development.
Summing Up the outcomes of Empowering Women, first reduction of population growth rate in developing countries that suffer from overcrowdings as the cost of having a new baby will be high as it can be a long homestay, less income, lower probability in promotion or any other reason that will affect the family’s income. Also, Women Empowerment will cause less crimes in the community as the perception about the power a woman or a girl has will change, leading to mutual respect between society members and reduction of cruelty against women and girls such as killing unwanted baby girls, honor killing and other forms of such crimes. Another thing is that females represent 49.6% of the world population. That is half the population, providing work and education so that women contribute to the economy, that is good allocation of resources, for women to be source of income instead of using resources only without any contribution.
Empowerment of Women in Egypt
Egypt is Classified to be among the countries ‘very high’ in gender discrimination, according to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Social Institutions and Gender Index 2014, which measures legislation, practices, and attitudes that restrict women’s rights and opportunities. Another measurement is the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, which measures disparities between men and women across countries, ranks Egypt at 136 out of 145 countries worldwide. Women have significantly lower participation in the labor force than men (26% vs 79%)and declining, also lower literacy (65% literacy for women vs 82% of males). All of this besides the harsh economic conditions in Egypt and lower quality of education causing a lot of social problems leading to less and less opportunities for women to rise up. According to IMF, empowering women in Egypt will increase GDP by approximately 34%. That in itself is a great driver for the government to focus on Women concerning the economic situation in Egypt Today.
There are two main players in the field of empowering women in Egypt. The first is USAID programs and organizations that focus on women. the other player is the NGOs either the Egyptian or Arab ones. USAID is one of the strongest partners with the Egyptian government. USAID works at many levels engaging women at different levels of living standards and education. USAID programs focus on many aspects like Health, improving skills to be able to compete for job opportunities, developing technological and managerial skills to be able to start a new business and many other fields. They are also focusing on the global initiative of women empower women and promoting collaboration among women to stand up for themselves. Some of the activities that has been done recently are UNICEF financially supporting community schools and UNGEI advocating for a higher female attendance, also implementing the Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED) project, which aids women with business strategies and guides them toward opening their own businesses.
The other main player is the Egyptian and Arab NGOs, they mainly fight for women anti- discrimination rights by working to improve the legal and political situation of women in Egypt. Some of the vital Issues they work on: Divorce law, Antiharassment movements, women’s right to choose and control their lives, Marriage age, Education, Healthcare, Child Labor and many other aspects that are part of Egyptian women daily struggle. There are many NGOs that focus on women, some of the most prominent ones are The National Council for Women, Regional Network on Arab Women and The Egyptian Center for Women Rights.
What can be done to make women situation better?
To make the situation better there are two key issues. First women should stand up for themselves and form alliances to support each other, only women can empower women. The other thing is the role of the government, it should invest in education and encourage learning for both males and females to improve the quality of the social life in the country. Also, the laws that affect women like divorce and harassment, not only to be revised but also to put them into action. The government should study the reasons that is really behind declining number of working women and encourage women to come out of the shadows of the parallel economy and work under the umbrella of the government. The government should encourage entities that hire women and setup standards for women safe work environment and the entities that have higher rankings according to these measurements should be encouraged and get incentives.
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