Celebrating Strategic Partnerships for ‘Women’s Empowerment and Financial and Economic Inclusion in Rural Egypt: COVID-19 Response’
Cairo, 10 March 2021
Ambassador Christian Berger, Head of EU Delegation
Dear Dr Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women (NCW);
Dear Ambassador Raouf Saad, Chairman of the National Bureau for the Implementation of Egypt EU Association Agreement;
Dear Ms May Abulnaga, First Subgovernor of the Central Bank of Egypt;
Dear Ambassador Han-Maurits Schaapveld;
Dear Ms Christine Arab, UN Women Country Representative;
Dear Participants on-line;
Dear Colleagues and Friends;
Allow me to congratulate you on International Women’s Day 2021 and on the upcoming Egyptian Women’s Day. I wish to express my appreciation to the women in Egypt and all over the world for their achievements on all fronts including a new one: the ongoing pandemic.
Let me quote the woman at the helm of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen: “The past year was a difficult one. The COVID-19 pandemic has spared nobody, and was particularly challenging for women around the world. Doctors, nurses, teachers, shop assistants – jobs often held by women – have found themselves at the frontline of the pandemic. All this, while taking on greater responsibilities at home. Let us take a moment to thank women for their bravery, their compassion and their contribution in fighting this crisis, also by keeping our societies, care systems and most essential services running.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing inequalities in our society. It put women at a great risk, including at times in their own homes. Later this year, the Commission will present a new proposal to combat gender-based violence in the EU. In our partner countries, the joint EU/UN Spotlight Initiative adapted priority actions on the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence to urgent needs. Progress is hard-won, but easily lost. We must work for Europe to remain a trailblazer in women's rights. Backsliding is not an option and we will continue to push forward.”
The European Union supports all efforts aiming at mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 global crisis. From raising €16 billion last year for research and finding a vaccine to supporting the development of a vaccine by contracting international pharmaceutical companies, and now making sure that the vaccine is distributed to whoever needs it through the international COVAX mechanism to which the EU is the biggest contributor with €1 billion. But it is not only vaccine. Worldwide, acting together as ‘Team Europe’, with a total contribution of around €38.5 billion, the European Union, EU Member States, and European financial institutions are committed to support partner countries in the fight against the pandemic and its consequences. We remain committed to supporting resilience and recovery as reflected in the recent Joint Communication for ‘Renewed Partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood – A new agenda for the Mediterranean’.
Today, we are launching a new project that is part of the ‘EU 4 Egypt's immediate socio-economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak’. Support to women empowerment and protection is at the heart of the EU response to Covid 19 in Egypt. We would like to thank all parties around this table for this achievement, reflecting a strong spirit of cooperation and dedication to the women empowerment cause, in line with the EU’s new ‘Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment’; the Egyptian Government’s National Strategy for Women’s Empowerment (2030); and Egypt’s Policy Paper on Rapid Response to Women’s Situation during the COVID-19 Outbreak.
With this intervention, we maintain our strong commitment to support Egypt’s ambitious agenda on women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment in follow up to the EU’s support to the first phase of the national initiative of the ‘Village Savings and Loans’ Associations’; and the prevention and response on violence against women and girls. Digitalisation stands as a cross cutting issue for the project implementation. We hope that the enhanced digital inclusion of women would be one of the project’s sustainable results.
The project is part our ‘Team Europe’ engagement between the EU and The Netherlands and in close partnership with the National Council of Women. Through ‘Team Europe’, our joint efforts and synergies will increase the impact and the target – reaching 120,000 women in the governorates of Minya, where I visited recently very successful projects in support of women in rural areas, Beni Sueif with EU funding; Assiut and Sohag with Dutch funding.
In partnership with the NCW, we look forward to the forthcoming launch of another programme addressing the economic drivers of irregular migration in Upper Egypt.
Support to women empowerment remains on top of the EU priorities. The New Agenda for the Mediterranean offers significant opportunities through which gender equality and equal opportunities will be at the centre of the EU action in all countries of the region, including in Egypt. The EU is committed to mainstream gender in at least 85% of its future cooperation projects.
Through our strategic partnership, we continue to contribute to prosperity and sustainable development in Egypt.