Women, peace and security, and Humanitarian support

Women, Peace and Security

UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000) is a landmark resolution that stresses the importance of equal and full involvement of women in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and it paved the way for UN SCRs 18201888188919602106212222422467, and 2493, all of which contain provisions in support of gender equality and women’s voice, agency and empowerment.

In May 2019, the Government of Egypt announced intent to develop the country’s first-ever National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UNSCR 1325. Moreover, in October 2020, the President of Egypt reiterated Egypt’s commitment to developing its NAP in his landmark speech at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing +25).

Globally, UN Women supports women’s full and equal representation and participation in all levels of peace and security processes and coordinates the implementation of the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, supporting initiatives, learning exchanges, and documentation of good practices – including on NAP development processes - to inform policy and programming. As welcomed and encouraged in UNSCR 1889, NAPs serve as an essential tool for implementation and as such they have been developed across close to 80 countries to date, about half of which are countries in peace.

The Government of Egypt’s decision reaffirmed the commitment of the Government of Egypt to implement the constitutional provisions that pertain to women’s leadership and decision-making, through the implementation of the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030.

The NAP is being developed through a tripartite partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Council for Women and the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA), working with various stakeholders such as civil society organizations and renowned research institutions, and in partnership with the UN Women Egypt Country Office.

Through the ECO’s WPS programme in Egypt, we will continue to support Egypt’s efforts to translate the WPS agenda from policy to practice and will work to support relevant national institutions to build capacities and increase leadership opportunities for women at all levels to advance peace regionally and globally.

The UN Women WPS programme brings in regional and international experiences and best practices. By definition the WPS programme contributes to the achievement of SDG 5: Gender Equality and SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions .

The first phase of the UN Women WPS programme commenced in November 2019 and will end in early 2022, and is generously supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Supporting Women Refugees in Egypt

As of 31 March 2021, 261,701 refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt were registered with UNHCR with the majority being from Syria (51%), followed by Sudan (18.9%), South Sudan (7.6%), Eritrea (7.4%), Ethiopia (6.2%), and 57 other countries (9.4%).[1] It is estimated that as of 2017, and despite the generous support of the Government of Egypt, 51% of Syrian refugee households were living with predicted expenditures per capita of less than half the calculated minimum expenditure basket.[2] As a signatory state to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the 1969 Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Egypt has continued to accept and absorb refugee populations despite the significant pressures on the local infrastructure as well as social services.

The UN Women Women's Leadership, Empowerment, Access and Protection (LEAP) Programme is a regional initiative which has been implemented in Egypt since 2016, in close partnership with the National Council for Women (NCW) and coordinating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The programme is made possible through the generous funding and support of the Government of Japan.

Under LEAP, UN Women partners with the Government of Egypt and specifically the National Council for Women, working with private companies and civil society to address the urgent economic and humanitarian needs of refugees, providing essential services to women refugees as well as host community nationals. The programme focuses on the immediate and long-term needs of women refugees, through enhancing their access to livelihood opportunities, including job creations and access to financial services, as well as the provision of protection referrals, awareness raising on rights and gender-based violence (GBV), and psycho-social support. It also contributes directly to promoting social cohesion and peaceful co-existence in the host communities.

Under the UN Women LEAP Programme, in partnership with the NCW and working with private companies and civil society:

  • 1, 245 refugee women and host community nationals have accessed decent employment through market linkages to different private sector value chains and by providing the skills and micro-assets needed to establish and scale-up their businesses.
  • Beneficiaries have significantly deepened their competitive skill sets in the areas of chocolatering, hair dressing, jewellery design and creation, sewing, crochet, amigurumi (basic and advanced), food preparation and catering, cake decoration, ICT and mobile repair, and caregiving. In addition to building these market-competitive skills, the programme provides beneficiaries with career guidance training in order to support them to access decent employment opportunities.
  • Approximately 40% of the beneficiaries to date have either received a job offer or been placed in decent employment jobs through job matching and/or cash for work opportunities.
  • Built the capacities of 15 community-based organizations (CBOs) in Greater Cairo and Alexandria to carry out vocational trainings for their beneficiary base and later act as vocational hubs.
  • 1,269 beneficiaries have been made aware of their rights to eliminate and respond to gender-based violence.
  • Beneficiaries requiring support have been reached through community centres, providing safe spaces for women and girls experiencing or at risk of violence, and offering essential GBV-related services to recover.
  • Additionally, beneficiaries in need have accessed psychodrama, creative writing, and expressive arts, to promote health, wellbeing, and empowerment. Through these interventions, participants have developed skills in expressiveness, critical thinking, problem solving and stress management while realizing a meaningful and positive change in their lives, resulting from their participation and engagement.
  • Awareness raising services also included and will continue to focus on decent employment standards, where collaboration has been established with ILO to develop decent employment checklists within the Leap Programme. UN Women ECO also has been placing the promotion of safe working environments free of all forms of exploitation and abuse at the top of its priorities, promoting its importance to all beneficiaries as well as national partners.

The programme supports referrals of beneficiaries to other livelihood opportunities. UN Women also started referring beneficiaries requesting assistance to UNHCR for the receipt of cash vouchers amidst the outbreak of COVID-19.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 in Egypt in 2020 in the programme’s fourth phase, UN Women ECO responded immediately by adjusting all its interventions applying necessary safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. LEAP has worked with its partners in revisiting their implementation strategies so as to ensure COVID-19 mitigation measures were in place and to allow for business continuity. In order to help the beneficiaries to secure their basic needs during the lockdown, work from home arrangements were followed as applicable and direct cash assistance was provided to beneficiaries in the most vulnerable groups in Greater Cairo (6th of October, Haram, Giza, Maadi and Nasr City) who did not have access to workplaces. Additionally, vocational trainings have been designed in response to COVID-19, such as the production of 10,000 face masks and crochet ear savers by 80 programme beneficiaries at the production unit located inside NCW Giza branch. In collaboration with CARE International, hygiene toolkits were distributed in Cairo, Qalyubia, Assuit and Sohag for 2,693 beneficiaries to help them apply effective COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Multimedia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yHQv5gOisc&list=PLt6Jq6O7V3eQ67Y1UP_1OwazjKczC3RJK&index=27

[1] UNHCR. 2020. Egypt Factsheet April 2020

[2] UNHCR. 2017. Vulnerability Assessment: Syrian Refugees in Egypt 2017