The European Union (EU) Delegation to Egypt and the Embassy of Sweden in Cairo launched today the EU Gender Champion initiative with the presence of the Minister of Planning Dr. Hala El Said, the Minister of Tourism Dr. Rania Al Mashat, the Head of the National Council for Women (NCW) Dr. Maya Morsy, the Secretary General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) Dr. Azza Al Ashmawy, prominent actress and celebrity Yousra, and the sports champion Hana Gouda. The event was also attended by senior officials, public figures, development partners and representatives of the civil society and the diplomatic community.
"Today, I am proud to announce, together with my colleague Jan Thesleff, the Ambassador of Sweden, and with the support of EU Member States, that we are determined to step up our efforts to promote gender equality and women empowerment. Egypt is a close partner and friend and we are determined to build on this solid base to develop our cooperation further," said Ivan Surkoš, Ambassador of the EU to Egypt.
"As EU Gender Champion, I am very pleased to say that our commitment, including through development cooperation with Egypt, has been on a steady increase. We have been a key supporter to women's political, economic, and social empowerment, as well as to combating violence against women and girls. Through our cooperation with the Government of Egypt, with development partners, and with civil society, many women and girls have been supported all over Egypt. Just last week, we signed a new project to support women leadership and their participation in public life. In 2020, we plan to sign a new programme to combat FGM, in close cooperation with the National Council for Women NCW, NCCM, and the UN," he added.
Ambassador Surkoš expressed his firm belief that the world will be better off when women and girls are fully and equally represented and engaged in all fields, without discrimination.
“As an EU Gender Champion, I am fully committed to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Sweden supports Egypt’s active endeavors towards gender parity. Important that the voices of women are not only heard but listened to. It is also essential to get men on board for a more gender equal world, that benefits all. Sweden is the first country to adopt a Feminist Foreign Policy, leaving no one behind. Sweden and the EU work closely with Egyptian partners, supporting and highlighting initiatives and cooperating in their implementation. Gender equality is not only a priority, but unavoidable for progress and growth. It is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal no.5 and moreover a prerequisite for all the other SDGs. I believe that the great and talented youth of this country is an enormous asset. They bring Egypt towards a bright, innovative, more prosperous and gender equal future. Together with my EU Colleague, Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, and our Egyptian partners, Ministries, the NCW, the NCCM, Civil Society and all Egyptians, I am proud to be an EU Gender Champion.” Jan Thesleff, Swedish Ambassador to Egypt.
The EU and its Member States are strong supporters of and advocate to women and girls' empowerment. At the global level, in 2018 the European Union committed EUR 15 billion worth of development funding in a gender sensitive manner. Of this, funding targeted specifically to gender equality and women empowerment accounted to EUR 600 million.
In Egypt, since 2014, EU cooperation targeting areas of women empowerment and violence against women and girls has accounted for more than EUR 20 million. Additionally, more than EUR 150 million has been targeted to child protection and access to education, with significant part of this being dedicated to girls' rights.
Sweden’s work in the region to promote female participation in the economy is extensive and includes both educational training, financial aid and other programs. The Swedish international development cooperation agency (Sida) supports, in partnership with Egyptian ministries and authorities, UN agencies and civil society actors, an integrated programme on social, economic and legal empowerment of Egyptian women. The objective is to strengthen women’s empowerment, as well as increase the participation of women in politics, business and society.
Empowerment of women is an important shared priority of EU and Egypt. The EU Gender Champion initiative stems from the need to support and promote gender equality and women and girls' rights within and outside the EU. In Egypt, Ambassador of the EU Ivan Surkoš and Ambassador of Sweden Jan Thesleff have been appointed by their EU Member States peers as Gender Champions.