IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is launching a new advisory program to improve women’s employment opportunities in Egypt, by highlighting how private sector companies can tap into the country’s large, underutilized female talent pool and spur economic growth.
This is a critical initiative. According to the National Council for Women, the COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious threat to women’s engagement in economic activities in Egypt.
The three-year program will help create family-friendly, flexible workplaces to make Egyptian businesses more resilient, agile and inclusive, especially in times of crisis.
Only 24 percent of working-age women participated in Egypt’s labor market in 2019, compared to 75 percent of men. Evening out those numbers is critical for economic growth, as the country’s GDP could rise by 34 percent if women and men participated equally.
“The participation of women is macro-critical, it is no longer lip service, all stakeholders from the public and private sector as well as IFIs are coming together to progress towards gender parity, as we see its quantifiable impact on GDP, productivity and as a catalyst to push the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals forward. We are proud that Egypt is the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch the ‘Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator’, a private public platform for collaboration to reach gender parity, with the World Economic Forum,” said H.E. Dr. Rania Al Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Arab Republic of Egypt.
“Creating economic opportunities for women in Egypt is a strategic priority for IFC,” said Walid Labadi, IFC’s country manager for Egypt, Libya and Yemen. “Private sector companies are starting to realize the potential of the female workforce to overcome skill and talent shortages and spur economic growth. More flexible, remote and family-friendly working arrangements benefit companies and support both their female and male employees.”
IFC is working with several leading companies under the program, including healthcare provider IDH, retailer Metro Markets, and a leading financial institution in the banking sector, to help them collect gender disaggregated human resources and company data, analyze gender gaps in their workforce, and develop an action plan to help close them.
To reach the widest group of firms, IFC will also partner with an Egyptian business association to create a peer-learning platform to raise awareness, share knowledge and improve women’s access to jobs. In partnership with the World Bank, IFC’s team will also work to help remove legal barriers to women’s employment by supporting economy-wide policy reform dialogue.
The program will be implemented in partnership with the government of the Netherlands, part of a broader effort aimed at private sector development in the Middle East and North Africa.