The citizenship initiative
Egyptian women have been struggling to make their voices heard as voters and candidates for legislative and elected bodies. They have been largely invisible in leadership positions and equitable participation in decision-making bodies. In parallel, there is also a strong need to build capacity of female voters capable of making their informed decisions and to access their citizenship rights, including the issuance of national ID cards. At the same time, the 2015 parliamentary elections resulted in having 89 women parliamentarians, a historic total of 15% of parliamentary seats. The next step is local council elections, which, according to the Constitution, will ensure a 25% quota for women.
UN Women Egypt continuously provides support towards the political empowerment of Egyptian women through the national ‘Women’s Citizenship Initiative’, implemented in partnership with the National Council for Women (NCW). This initiative through the community outreach by Youth Ambassadors, and improved issuance processes, one the one hand enhances awareness of women of the benefits of having a national ID card, while on the other hand issuing 80,000 ID cards to women during 2016 alone. The ID cards have enabled women to access public services, including health and education for them and their children, access credit and open bank accounts, and vote as well as run as candidate in the future elections. The Women’s Citizenship Initiative has received highest political backing from H.E. President El-Sisi, and is supported by a growing number of national and international partners.
Building on past capacity development support for women considering running for elections, UN Women – in partnership with the National Council for Women, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR), and the Association for Egyptian Female Lawyers (AEFL), and partially through its Fund for Gender Equality (FGE).– raises awareness around the local council elections – which have a constitutionally anchored quota of 25% for women – and identify and prepare potential candidates to help fill the space for at least 13,500 women local council members. The capacity development initiatives reaching 35,000 women in 27 governorates focus on the Egyptian political system, electoral laws, electoral campaign management, and the formulation of electoral programmes.
Acknowledging the importance of, and building on the promotion of women’s representation in trade unions, UN Women Egypt continues to advocate for women’s rights to be more visible in trade union agendas, including the availability of child care in the work place, safety measures and sexual harassment at work, social security for female workers, and others were among such issues.
It is worth mentioning that this programme is being implemented with the generous support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), European Union (EU), Spanish Cooperation and the United States Agency for International Development ( USAID).