Women's Economic empowerment
Women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards inclusive economic development. In line with Egypt’s international commitments, its national frameworks UN Women Egypt Country Office (ECO) works in partnership with the Government of Egypt represented in the National Council for Women, the Ministry of Manpower, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Social Solidarity, the Ministry of International Cooperation, and several government entities, private sector, and civil society to promote women’s economic empowerment.
Women’s unemployment rate declined from 21.7% in 2019 to 17.7% in 2020 though the analysis is not complete without an understanding of women’s labour force participation rates, which have also been shrinking from 18% to 16.8% in the same period. There is a rise in “discouraged labour” among women and thus, are not counted in the official unemployment statistics.
Reasons for such figures include a segmented labour market, barriers to accessing finance, markets and credit, and the gender wage gap. High reproductive rates, especially in rural areas, and restrictive social norms also put high expectations on women to do the majority of unpaid care and domestic work. Egyptian women thus remain disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination. When they do have paid work, they are concentrated mainly in informal, insecure, low-wage jobs or in fields with little if any social protection, and career progression opportunities.
In Egypt, women economic empowerment is a key national priority highlighted as one of the four pillars of the 2030 National Women’s Empowerment Strategy, which complements Egypt’s vision and roadmap for 2030. Empowering women is key to reducing poverty and increasing economic growth. Research shows that if the women’s employment were to equal that of men, Egypt’s Gross Domestic Product could increase by up to 34 per cent.
UN Women’s Economic Empowerment portfolio provides integrated support to rural women’s digital financial inclusion, women’s entrepreneurship, including with a focus on young women, young women and returning women’s employability, evidence-based advocacy for investing in care service to enhance women’s access to sustainable livelihoods, innovative financing and supporting further uptake by private sector of gender equality measures within the Women’s Empowerment Principles. Work under the Women’s Economic Empowerment portfolio is implemented in partnership with the National Council for Women, the Ministry of Manpower, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Social Solidarity, private sector and civil society. The work under the portfolio is made possible through the generous support of the Government of Canada/Global Affairs Canada, the European Union, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Proctor & Gamble, South Korea/KOICA, Sweden/SIDA, and Switzerland/Swiss Development Cooperation, as well as the UN Joint SDG Fund.
Against this backdrop, UN Women ECO is leading several programmes that focus on women’s economic empowerment:
- Diversifying suppliers to support women entrepreneurs
- Enhancing women’s empowerment for sustainable growth
- Expanding banking, savings and loans for rural women
- Promoting productive employment and decent work
- Innovative Financing and Gender-Responsive Budgeting;
- National Citizenship Initiative;
- Supporting the Care Economy for Women’s Empowerment
- Private Sector’s support of the Women’s Empowerment Principles
 CAPMAS (2020) Egypt Statistical Abstract, Labor (2019-2020)
 Economic Research Forum (2019), The Evolution of Labor Supply in Egypt From 1988-2018: A Gendered Analysis
 Note: discouraged labour force means those who stop trying to find jobs and thus, are no longer reflected in the labour force size or unemployment calculations.
 International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2013. “Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity.”