Ancient Egyptian civilization bore witness to the pivotal role women play within a society when women were business owners, doctors, and judges. Today, while women make up more than 50% of the global population, as per World Bank data, their presence in the workforce is uneven. The effects of this are also felt in the environmental crisis, with women and children being disproportionality affected.
On a panel hosted on January 15, 2023, by the Women in Business Committee, entitled “Gender and COP27: Initiatives, Opportunities, and Challenges,” guest speaker and President of the National Council for Women, Maya Morsy shed light on the disparate effect climate change has wrought on women, and how Egypt has been working towards tackling the challenges.
Morsy emphasized the need for women’s participation in the economy and the importance of including them in the transition toward a greener tomorrow.
“We have to showcase our civilization. A civilization that respects women more than any other civilization in the whole world,” Morsy said.
Climate change is at our doorstep and women play a crucial role in the global fight against the crisis. The way forward is to shift the narrative from victimhood to leadership where women are concerned, according to a UN report released in November.
“There will be 500 million jobs in the green sector over the next ten years. We want to work towards women taking a fair percentage,” Morsy said.
Morsy called for an increased presence of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, in addition to creating a solid bridge between ministers of environment, women in leadership and younger generations.
Over the years, Egypt has intensified its efforts to promote women’s empowerment, with a goal to transition into a green economy while simultaneously promoting women’s participation in fields like sustainable farming, among others.
COP27 and women
In 2020, Morsy and her team put forth a plan for a green economy ahead of COP27, which Egypt hosted in November. The conference was the first to host women in leadership positions within the region, she said.
Women were at the forefront of our plan, Morsy said. The strategy included promoting gender-sensitive perspectives within adaptation, mitigation, and responses, amplifying women’s voices, and granting participation in environmental governance.
Morsy’s plan also included leveraging opportunities for women in the transition to a green economy and tackling health and social implications for women, resulting from the environmental crisis.
“Egypt succeeded and [now], we’re working on handing it over to the UAE,” Morsy noted.
From women to women
Several other initiatives in Egypt were also discussed during the panel, including the Haya Kareema Program, which aims to provide health and social services to Egyptian citizens, with 50% of the beneficiaries being women.
Another initiative is the National Family Development Program with one of its main pillars being women’s economic empowerment.
Morsy hopes to see Egypt commit to investing in its women by promoting the funding of women-led startups and gathering research and data on women-related projects.