Sunday 09, April 2017 by Jessica Combes

Empowering Egyptian women is vital to fuelling growth and creating jobs

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, hosted a roundtable discussion last week to support gender equality in Egypt and address the barriers that prevent women from participating fully in the economy.

The event, ‘Egypt’s Businesses: Building Value and Accelerating Growth through Gender Inclusion’, brought together leading players from across the private sector. It called for companies to play a stronger role in generating employment, leadership, and business opportunities for women. It also addressed the challenges faced by women in Egypt, and ways to unleash their economic potential. Representatives from Vodafone Egypt, Coca-Cola, IBM, and Sekem were among those who participated in the event.

“Women’s inclusion in the private sector is a strategic priority for IFC in Egypt. Investing in women is not only essential for economic growth, but it’s also good for Egypt’s economy. Companies that attract and retain female employees have a wider and better talent pool. At the same time, banks that lend to women-owned SMEs could tap into a currently unserved credit market worth $283 million,” said Nada Shousha, IFC Senior Advisor in Egypt.

In Egypt, women represent just 12 per cent of permanent full-time workers and 30 per cent of business owners. Only seven per cent of Egypt’s firms are led by a female executive, and they earn, on average, about 22 per cent less than their male counterparts. If Egypt closed these gaps and achieved full gender parity in its labour market, it could see its gross domestic product increase by 34 per cent.

IFC is reducing these economic gender gaps in the region by working with partners, companies and financial institutions to increase women’s access to finance, employment, and corporate leadership, and create a lending market for women entrepreneurs. Through its Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, IFC is investing in banks for on-lending to women-owned SMEs. In addition, through its investments in companies across the Middle East and North Africa, IFC investee companies have generated more than 120,000 jobs for women over the past decade.

Globally, IFC has invested more than $1 billion in private-sector banks via its Banking on Women programme and provided advisory services to banks that want to better serve the women’s market. We enable financial institutions to better address the needs of women-owned small and medium enterprises, and work with private sector clients and partners to ensure women-focused initiatives are part of wider employment efforts.



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