The Outer

Canada, Mexico and Sweden joined by France, Germany and the Czech Republic in marking Egyptian Women’s Day

By Manal Abdel Fattah

The 2024 edition of “Champions of Change” awards ceremony was hosted by the Official Residence of the Mexican Ambassador in Cairo on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. It was
an important occasion as the trio of Canada, Mexico and Sweden were joined by the Czech Republic, France and Germany.

H.E. Mr. Louis Dumas, Ambassador of Canada, H.E. Mr. Ivan Jukl, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, Mr. Raphaël Martin de Lagarde, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of France, H.E. Mr. Frank Hartmann, Ambassador of Germany, H.E. Ms. Leonora Rueda, Ambassador of Mexico and H.E. Mr. Håkan Emsgård, Ambassador of Sweden celebrated.

the transformative social, economic, and political achievements of remarkable Egyptian women as all of the six countries are long-standing advocates of gender equality and empowerment
of women and girls.

The “Champions of Change” awards were established to recognize the contributions of Egyptian gender equality pioneers and their efforts in building a stronger Egypt in 2020. The award ceremony takes place in conjunction with the celebration of International and Egyptian Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Inspire Inclusion”. The following awardees were honoured in 2024:

1. Manal AbdelMoneim, Entrepreneur with ventures in FMCG, renewable energy, waste management, and agribusiness. She empowers rural women by teaching literacy and supporting their businesses in food, farming, and crafts, aiming for their financial independence and access to formal finance.
2. Namees Arnous, Founder of E7kky Network, a Media, PR and Communication Company, with focus on Women Empowerment and Gender Equality.
3. Soraya Bahgat, Human rights activist and founder of Tahrir Bodyguard, focused on protecting female protestors in Egypt and combating sexual harassment. She’s also involved with the Girl Generation, striving to end female genital mutilation in Africa (FGM) in one generation.
4. Salma Ellakany, Founder of VeryNile Shop, an innovation hub that creates up-cycled products in collaboration with women living by the Nile with a human-centric approach.
5. Mai Farid, CEO of the Universal Health Insurance Authority, Assistant Minister of Finance for Economic Justice, she is heading the reform of the Universal Health Insurance supported since 2019 by France, alongside other donors.

6. Fatma Ibrahim, Founder of The Sex Talk Arabic, an innovative and pioneering non-for-profit organisation that has received recognition for its commitment to human rights.

7. Hala Khalil, Egyptian film director, producer, and writer. Her films, which focus on the day-to-day narratives of Egyptian women, and their identity separation from men, have been at the receiving hand of critical acclaim, functioning as an important part of feminism in Egypt and made her a prominent figure at the forefront of the rise in female directors in the region.

8. Fatma Metwelly, Entrepreneur, Peanut business, Founder and CEO of a peanut fatory,
a sector dominated by men in Upper Egypt. Factory is producing 2 tons of peanuts a day and she is in the export business.

9. Sara Sabri, The first Egyptian astronaut to travel into space on Blue Origin NS-22 Flight. She later founded Deep Space Initiative (DSI), a non-profit organization based in Colorado US that aims to increase accessibility in the space field by providing opportunities in research and education, while enabling deep space exploration for all Humankind.

10. Géraldine Samir Tawfik, Director of Samusocial International Egypt. In that capacity, she strongly contributes to reinforce access to better living conditions and rights for vulnerable and marginalized population of street children, including girls and young mothers.

11. Yara Shalaby, The first female Rally contestant in Egypt, champion in desert racing, Egyptian sports ambassador of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and member
of Federation’s Women’s Committee for Motorsport.

12. Hanaa Shehata, Director of Canada Desk, Ministry of International Cooperation (MOIC),
a key partner for Canada responsible for agreements between the Government of Egypt and Government of Canada. She is constantly providing support to Canada’s development assistance which is currently reaching over 123,000 beneficiaries in 6 governorates.
Global Affairs Canada has a proven track record in supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in its international assistance.

This was strengthened with the launch of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. In implementing the policy, Canada has substantially increased its investments in advancing gender equality. Canada will continue to advance efforts to integrate and target gender-equality results in our international assistance. In parallel, Canada is keen to seize emerging opportunities for new partnerships in the development landscape and to support promising new approaches.

The Czech Republic prioritizes protecting and empowering women and girls as a core tenet of its foreign policy. It actively advocates for equal participation in public life, economic independence, and freedom from violence across international forums like the UN and at regional platforms.

Through its Transformational Cooperation Program, it supports projects by Czech NGOs advancing gender equality and non-discrimination in key partner countries. The Czech Embassy in Cairo champions diverse projects empowering women and tackling local challenges.

France follows a feminist foreign policy, and as such has made gender equality a fundamental pillar of its action on the global stage, be it through political advocacy and engagement, targeted development aid, support to civil society, etc. In 2023, France has mobilised €1 million to promote gender equality and combat discrimination and violence against women in Egypt.

Among other things, we funded 14 local organizations. France has also been supporting women’s entrepreneurship. To this date, 7,500 projects have been financed and 26,400 jobs created in 26 governorates.

Germany follows a feminist foreign policy, placing those affected by it at the core. During her first visit to Egypt, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock succinctly shared: “Women’s rights are the foundation for the state of our societies. Their rights are the bar against we must measure all our freedoms and safety. … To tackle today’s complex challenges with challenges – in climate, social, economic or political development – our policies must be shaped by diverse voices from all parts of society. Where equality is achieved, societies are more peaceful, just, sustainable and economically successful than where women and others are excluded from participation.“

Mexico’s Feminist Foreign Policy has been characterized by its leadership in promoting a gender perspective and human rights approach in its bilateral and regional agendas, as well as in multilateral negotiations. Additionally, it has developed mechanisms and protocols for caring for victims of gender violence as part of its consular protection work for Mexican women abroad. Regarding innovation and technology for gender equality, Mexico supports an agenda that includes digital education, eradication of the digital gender gap and digital gender violence, and greater participation of women and girls in STEM careers.

The Swedish commitment to gender equality extends beyond legal frameworks and work-life balance. Women’s empowerment is deeply embedded in all our societal values, cultural norms and public policies. Gender equality is a core priority of the Swedish foreign policy.

The Swedish government works to combat inhibitive gender norms by ensuring that gender equality influences policy choices and priorities, such as equal pay, shared parental leave and gender-sensitive allocation of development aid across all areas. To achieve gender equality, it is critical to enhance women’s empowerment and ensure economic empowerment. One way to achieve this is to increase female presence in all sectors of society.

All participating Embassies have agreed to continue to advocate for increased female representation in leadership positions across all sectors, knowing that inclusion is not just
a buzzword, but a catalyst for innovation and progress.

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