Women Can Play Vital Role in Economy, Turn the Tide of Extremism
Saying that women thrive when they enjoy freedom and opportunity, the United States of America has underscored the importance of tapping women’s potentials to overcome the pressing economic and security challenges of Egypt.
In remarks in Cairo in Egypt, US Under Secretary Sarah Sewall for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights said “When more women participate in the economy – as consumers and employers, innovators and entrepreneurs, it broadens prosperity by creating new markets, products, and patents.”
“Egypt cannot reach its full economic potential – nor achieve its great promise – without women.” – Ms. Sewall
With regards to security challenges, women in particular are an untapped resource in the fight against terrorism as well.
Ms. Sewall highlighted that as Daesh calls on women to marry its terrorist fighters and support its nihilistic campaign, women are well positioned to counter that message.
“But mobilizing the power of women for this security challenge requires empowering women and women’s groups in all manner of public life.” – Ms. Sewall
How Women Can Contribute to Progress in Economy
Ms. Sewall noted the Egyptian people are facing significant economic, security, and political challenges.
The turbulence of recent years has greatly strained Egypt’s economy. However, Ms. Sewall pointed out that tapping the talents of all Egyptians – and in particular, the untapped resource of women can turn the tide of economic turmoil.
For one, closing the gap between men and women in the labor force can be helpful to counter the burgeoning economic crisis.
In fact, the International Monetary Fund estimates that closing the gap between men and women in the labor force would expand Egypt’s economy by “34 percent.”
“That is “2.5 trillion” Egyptian pounds of economic growth, or roughly 3,000 pounds per person of greater income, flexibility, and economic security.” – Ms. Sewall
That is why the United States has reached out to Egyptian government to support Egyptian women with job training programs, exchanges with businesswomen from America’s tech industry, and workshops and grants to female entrepreneurs.
In addition, the United States also provides this support because it understands that stifling opportunities for any group – including women – not only holds back the country’s economic potential, but can produce a host of other social problems – from inequality to crime to disengagement from public life.
Egypt’s Women Can Help Counter Terrorism
According to Ms. Sewall, women play a vital role to counter violent extremism. In fact, no other person living in every city and village, whose reach extends into every family, and who understands the needs of their community better than many local government officials than women.
In addition, Ms. Sewall explained that mobilizing the power of women for this security challenge requires empowering women and women’s groups in all manner of public life.
“Only then can they speak with the independence, authority, and authenticity needed to effectively push back against terrorist recruitment.” – Ms. Sewall
One more thing also, so if governments are serious about reducing the threat of terrorism, they need to get serious about including and empowering women.
Status of Egyptian Women Today
According to Ms. Sewall, less than a quarter of Egyptian women work in the formal economy compared to nearly 75 percent of men.
“The rate of unemployment among women is four times that of men.” – Ms. Sewall
In addition, disparities like the one out of three Egyptian women over age ten who cannot read, the dangerous and widespread practice of female genital mutilation and cutting, or the nearly one in five Egyptian girls who marry before age 15 – many forced down this road at great risk to their health and wellbeing, and before they are old enough to finish school and develop skills to support themselves economically.
Worst thing also, early and forced marriage and limited education not only limit women’s future, but also those of the next generation of Egyptians who grow up in households with mothers who – despite their every desire – cannot read to their children, assist them with schoolwork, or help them envision an economic livelihood or career.
US Helps Egypt For Its Economic Recovery
In February 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States stands ready to provide assistance to Egypt to advance its efforts. Secretary Clinton announced $150 million budget to assist Egypt in its economic recovery after turmoil.
Earlier in 2013, President Obama has proposed a $1 billion cancellation of Egyptian debt to support Egypt’s economic recovery.
Egypt has made progress on human rights since the revolution that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak earlier in 2011.
Long-standing regimes were toppled by a wave of pro-democracy protests that have engulfed much of North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, particularly in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.