In the meeting organized by the AfroMedia Initiative: Egyptian women leaders in the African Union stress the importance of empowering and promoting the role of women in the public sphere
Negm: "The family is the main engine of success."
El-Hakim: “The decade of women’s financial and economic inclusion from 2020 to 2030 is aligned with the strategy for empowering women launched by President El-Sisi in 2017.”
The Afromedia Initiative launched yesterday an online session entitled “The Continental Presence of Egyptian Women”; it was attended by Dr Namira Negm, Legal Counsel of the African Union, and Dr Nadine El-Hakim, Advisor on Foreign Policy Affairs to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and journalist Amira Sayed from the Egyptian Gazette, member of the World Youth Parliament for Water and activist in the field of media and press translation, as well as by a number of Egyptian and non-Egyptian African media professionals and journalists who spoke Arabic, in addition to a group of researchers specializing in African affairs and public work.
Ambassador Namira Negm began her statement by extending thanks and appreciation to every father and mother who carried out real effort in raising their children, their daughters in particular, in a manner that encourages them to play a positive role in society without gender-discrimination. She stressed the family's role in the upbringing and development of children, as it is the first stop in our life and the first incentive that shapes the nature of our role in public life. In her speech, she also touched upon the laws ensuring women empowerment and placing them on an equal footing with men.
Negm said: “We, in the African Union Commission, are striving to reach 50% of women presence in the AU and at the local level in Egypt. The legal infrastructure in terms of equality exists and can be built upon. However, it faces several challenges, the most important of which is population density: a family facing economic challenges because of its large number of members, will certainly undermine the right of girls to education because they deem the primary role of the woman is to become a housewife, which will ultimately diminish their right to social participation, which in its turn hinders development. Hence the need to emphasize the importance of empowering women to participate in public life and in the political and economic spheres in addition to playing their role in the family. It is also necessary to raise women awareness of the importance of their role in society, which transgresses their role in bearing children, in an attempt to get rid of negative cultural legacies that waste their energy and hinder the state from investing in the society’s full force, creating crippled development and an unhappy reality.”
Negm added: “The international political industry starts from the country that provides people with opportunities to participate in public life in addition to great knowledge and experiences to qualify them to represent their country internationally and to work at all levels; and especially women with knowledge and experience who achieved success at the local level, thus the state appoints them in decision-making positions. All of this places the woman in the same status as her counterparts from other countries, mentioning, for instance, Mrs. "Ngozi Okonjo", a Nigerian who obtained a BA with distinction from Harvard University in 1976, then she engaged in practical life and assumed leadership positions in her country, later at the continental level, and finally at the international level, by assuming the chairmanship of the World Trade Organization. She is a vivid and strong example that we should capitalize on.”
In this regard, Ambassador Namira Negm stressed the necessity of preparing lists of elements and competencies of experienced women, just like men, who are capable of assuming leadership positions in all fields and specializations. This, in its turn, would highlight the capacities of African women, especially with the increasing demand of international organizations for African women to occupy leadership positions in addition to small positions, which would lead to including African women capable of performing their role professionally and with integrity in the global competition, and not only having sporadic successes achieved through personal efforts of certain historical cadres such as Minister Ghada Waly, first Egyptian African woman to assume the position of Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. She was selected by the United Nations for her organized efforts in combating drug addiction and abuse and for her innovative programs in raising awareness of its danger.
Negm concluded: “Women must believe in themselves and their capacities and know that they are essential partners with men in society. They must continue to make efforts to break the restrictions that prevent them from achieving their aspirations and accessing their personal and public rights.”
Dr Nadine El-Hakim proceeded by praising the idea of the Afromedia initiative and for its coverage of the most important issues and news on the continental arena, among which was the session entitled "The Role of the African Free Trade Zone in Achieving Economic Integration of the Continent", explaining that this topic is truly relevant to women and achieving their financial and economic inclusion, noting that women represent about 70% of the cross-border traders through the intra-trade area.
She added that those women were working under the radar alone, without protection, rights, guarantees, or insurances, with a lack of resources, and despite the fact that intra-trade must be in coordination between the two countries. She also mentioned the report presented by President Akufo at the African Union Summit 2020 on the role of women in African development, in which he explained the role played by women in achieving the Africa Agenda 2063, followed by the declaration of the African Union leaders of years 2020 to 2030 as the new decade of women’s financial and economic inclusion to establish legislative and institutional frameworks in order to strengthen the role of women in the field of work, stressing as well that this is in line with the strategy of women empowerment launched by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Egypt in 2017 through the National Council for Women.
Dr. Nadine Al-Hakim concluded: "As women are half of society, they are also half of the economy. When we marginalize the economic capacities of women, it means we waste half of our revenues, and accordingly we have to pay attention of the elements of society, women and men alike, and not leave anyone behind. Women empowerment means family empowerment; and family empowerment means society empowerment and advancement.”
As for journalist Amira Sayed, she stated the importance of the media's role as a mirror of the street and a portrayal of what is happening on the ground through highlighting the challenges facing women in the various stages of their lives, whether in the family, education or public work. She also stressed the media’s primary and influential role in forming collective awareness and stereotypes about women and their role in society. She noted that, while attending the 8th "World Water Forum" in Brazil, she had met two Portuguese women who were deprived of education due to the lack of water, because it was their responsibility since childhood to provide their families' with their daily needs of water, not leaving them with time to attend their lessons or pay attention to any other interests, saying: “It is to this extent that women always bear the consequences of development challenges in societies.”
She concluded by explaining that the media’s role does not include only monitoring the challenges facing women and highlighting their issues, but rather it should go beyond that, it must also find solutions and connect between the street and the decision makers. At the end, she recommended the creation a network of African, Egyptian and non-Egyptian media professionals and journalists concerned with development, women and society issues, to contribute to enhancing the role of the media, in an appropriate manner.
It is worth noting that "Afromedia" is the first initiative of its kind that seeks to be a media bridge between the Egyptian people and the rest of the African peoples, by introducing Egypt’s efforts in the development of the African continent at the present time, in an attempt to highlight Egypt's African face. It also works to coordinate efforts between the concerned authorities to study and regulate the content of the Egyptian media message on the African continent and support the correct mental image of the African continent within the state's institutions and among the staff of the state’s administrative apparatus, and this is what the political leadership, headed by President Abdel Fattah El- Sisi, is seeking to achieve