During his first visit to Egypt, the Minister of International Development of Canada meets with women entrepreneurs and job seekers from the ‘Rabeha’ programme


High-level visit of the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development of Canada
Group photo of the High-level visit of the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development of Canada to Beheira governorate. Photo: UN Women/ Mahmoud Abdel Latif

Cairo, 15 August 2022- During his first visit to Egypt, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development of Canada met with women entrepreneurs and job seekers in Beheira governorate on Saturday, 13 August 2022, within the framework of the UN Joint Programme on “Women’s Economic Empowerment for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Egypt” (also known as Rabeha).

Under the auspices and attendance of H.E. General Hisham Amna, Governor of Beheira, the visit was also attended by Mr. Christopher MacLennan, Deputy Minister of International Development; H.E. Ambassador Louis Dumas, the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt; H.E. Gamal Nour Eldin, Governor of Kafr ElSheikh; Dr. Nehal Balbaa, the Deputy Governor of Beheira; Dr. Zakia Rashad, Head of the National Council for Women Beheira Branch and Ms. Gielan El Messiri; Deputy Country Representative, UN Women Egypt.

During the visit an interactive roundtable discussion was held with women job seekers and entrepreneurs at different stages of their business cycle to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face on both the individual and ecosystem level to build and scale their business and/or access decent jobs and career advancement. Furthermore, women entrepreneurs that received technical support and coaching had the opportunity to showcase their products and services before the high-level delegation.

“I am consistently impressed by Rabeha Entrepreneurs and Egyptian women entrepreneurs in general: they are innovators, risk takers, and key drivers of strong local economies in their cities. They launch start-ups that bring new ideas to life, invest in their communities, and create jobs. Over the past two years, entrepreneurs have faced hardship and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, in communities across the globe, as in Egypt, countless entrepreneurs have found new ways to do business, proving that the entrepreneurial spirit is strong and resilient. As the world recovers, we recognize that strong economies need to include women for sustainable growth. Canada is proud to partner with UN Women and UNIDO to expand support to the Egyptian entrepreneurial ecosystem in different governorates of Egypt.” stated H.E. Ambassador Louis Dumas, the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt.

“UN Women in partnership with UNIDO is proud of its strong partnership with the Government of Egypt and the Government of Canada and its collaboration with the private sector and national non-governmental agencies through “Rabeha” Joint Programme. The programme’s goal is to support women, including women with disabilities, to access decent jobs and successfully establish their own businesses using climate-smart and sustainable approaches,” stated Ms. Christine Arab, UN Women Country Representative. “Through the joint efforts implemented so far, over two thousand women in rural and urban areas throughout Egypt have improved access to entrepreneurship and employability services in the different governorates.”

In her remarks, Dr. Nehal Balbaa; the Deputy Governor of Beheira praised the role of the Egyptian state in supporting women’s issues noting that the UN Joint programme ‘Rabeha’,  implemented in collaboration with the Government of Canada, is in line with Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve gender equality and women’s economic empowerment and promote the role of women in the society as the programme offers employability and entrepreneurship trainings for women beneficiaries and supports them in developing their business plans, which enhances their skills and open new marketing channels for them to increase their profits and sustain their businesses.

Dr. Zakia Rashad; Head of the National Council for Women Branch in Beheira highlighted that the Council pays special attention to all required means and measures to ensure that women are productive, capable of reaching their potential and that they can invest in their great capacity; in addition to supporting them and enhancing their skills to benefit from the opportunities available in their environment and encourage them to be entrepreneurs. Dr. Zakia expressed the National Council for Women’s pleasure being a partner in the programme to achieve these goals within the framework of implementing the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030, as well as relevant national, regional and international strategies that focus on improving women’s economic status and enhancing women’s capabilities, especially for future jobs and digital transformation to enhance women’s economic empowerment through supporting women by benefiting from advantages of digital transformation which provides more options for job opportunities and increase women’s participation in the labor market to apply the principle of equal opportunities for employing women in all sectors, including the private sector.

Launched in 2020, the ‘Rabeha’ programme aims to support the economic empowerment of over 6300 women in 7 governorates: Cairo, Giza, Beheira, Alexandria, Fayoum, Beni Sueif and Minya through increased access to employment and/or self-employment opportunities. The programme is implemented by UN Women and UNIDO in partnership with the National Council for Women (NCW), the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) with the generous support of the Government of Canada.

The ‘Rabeha’ programme provides a tailored package of demand-driven services to various stakeholders in the Egyptian labor market, including through providing pathways for capacity development and growth to women job seekers, women entrepreneurs, private sector companies and investors in collaboration with government institutions and labor market actors.

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