Ramadan’s “Hadret El Omda” Goes Viral as it Discusses Critical Women’s Issues

Over the past few days, Ramadan Drama Series “Hadret El Omda” was heavily praised all across social media platforms, as it touched on an important issue that affects the majority of girls in Egypt, especially in Upper Egypt, namely, the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The main storyline follows the heroine of the series (Safia Aref Al-Fares), Singer and Actress Ruby’s character on the show, who wins the position of mayor, in one of the villages called “Tal Shaboura”, a symbolic village.

The village is divided between supporters and opponents of this young woman in her early forties assuming a position that was exclusive to men in the past.

The events display all the challenges Safia faces in a highly relatable manner. Throughout the series, many realistic social issues are discussed in detail and presented with solutions, most notably female circumcision, illegal immigration, money laundering, drug trafficking, and more.

The drama series emphasizes that Women have the right to live a life free from violence and enjoy equal rights and dignity, that is basic human rights for all human beings.

Notably, the Egyptian state is taking steady steps towards preserving women’s rights and eliminating violence against them; its goal is to empower Egyptian women as equal partners in building the nation.

According to what the government and the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics announced, separate penalties are criminalizing female circumcision for doctors and nurses, in addition to other penalties for the facility that allows such an awful act.

The scope of the criminalization was also introduced and expanded to criminalize all forms of incitement, encouragement, or lawsuit to commit that crime.

The state has issued clear laws against the act, which were highlighted on the show.

The state’s laws criminalizing FGM are as follows:

Whoever performs female circumcision shall also be punished by imprisonment for no less than 5 years. If that act results in a permanent disability, the penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment for no less than seven years. If the act leads to death, the penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment for no less than 10 years.

The penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment for no less than five years if the person who performed the circumcision referred to in the preceding paragraph was a doctor or a practitioner of the nursing profession.

If his crime results in a permanent disability, the penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment for no less than ten years. However, if the act leads to death, the penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment for no less than fifteen years and no more than twenty years.

Egypt’s government also worked on equipping 3 medical response units, “Safe Women’s Clinics” in public university hospitals.

According to the UNFPA Annual Report on FGM 2021, more than 532,000 girls were saved from undergoing FGM. However, UNFPA also estimates that there could be up to 2 M FGM cases by 2030, which could have been avoided had it not been overshadowed by the Corona pandemic.

The United Nations stressed the intolerance of female genital mutilation and considered it “An abhorrent Violation of Basic Human Rights”, as the act still poses a threat to about 4.2 M girls this year.

UN: Technology, innovation, and Education in Digital Age Have a Significant Impact on Accelerating Gender Equality

The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67), the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls, and their human rights, successfully closed its two-week long session last Saturday (6 to 17 March) with the acknowledgment of the critical role of technology and innovation in achieving gender equality, according to the “UN Women” website.

The agreed conclusions adopted by Member States provide a blueprint for all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society, and youth to promote the full and equal participation and leadership of women and girls in the design, transformation, and integration of digital technologies and innovation processes that fulfill the human rights and needs of women and girls.

In conclusion of the negotiations, UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous, said: “This year’s Agreed Conclusions are game-changing and bring forward our vision of a more equal and connected world for women and girls in all their diversity. It is our job, as we leave here today, to translate them into reality. The ultimate success of these Agreed Conclusions lies beyond their finalization today, in how we will collectively take them forward.

Egypt’s Mashat Hails Outcomes of Cooperation with UN Agencies

Egypt praised efforts and continued coordination between development partners and the UN agencies from one side and the relevant national entities from the other side, according to the Egyptian International Cooperation Minister Rania el Mashat.

She made these remarks last Saturday during her visit to Aswan along with UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt Elena Panova.

Mashat also stressed that the current program in place copes with the government’s vision as well as the “Egypt Takes Off” program.

Moreover, the program is in line with the “Decent Life” presidential initiative, which aims to improve the quality of life in the poorest rural areas, the minister affirmed.

Meanwhile, the minister and the UN official inspected the outcome of the program of investment in the human capital in Upper Egypt in a school in Kom Ombo.

UN official meets Taliban deputy premier to discuss women NGO ban

UN official meets Taliban deputy premier to discuss women NGO ban

According to Ahram Online, A senior U.N. official in Afghanistan met yesterday the deputy prime minister of the Taliban-led government to discuss a ban on women working for non-governmental groups that Afghan authorities have announced in a series of measures rolling back women’s rights.

The Taliban government’s decision to prohibit women from working for non-governmental organizations has caused major international aid organizations to suspend operations in the country. The ban has raised concerns that people will be deprived of food, education, healthcare, and other critical services, even though more than half of Afghanistan’s population requires immediate humanitarian assistance.

Aid agencies have warned the ban will have catastrophic consequences and “hundreds and thousands” of Afghans will die because of the Taliban decision.

The deputy head of the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan, Potzel Markus, met Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi in the capital Kabul to discuss the ban, as well as other measures including barring women from universities.

“By prohibiting women from working in non-governmental organizations and denying girls and women access to education and training, millions of Afghans suffer and vital aid is not delivered to Afghan men, women, and children,” the UN mission said.

Potzel is the latest U.N. official to meet the Taliban’s leadership amid mounting international concern over the curtailing of women’s freedoms in Afghanistan.

Last Monday, the acting head of the U.N. mission Ramiz Alakbarov met Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif.

Hanif issued the NGO ban on December 24, allegedly because women were not correctly wearing the Islamic headscarf or hijab. He stated that any organisation found to violate the order will have its licence revoked.

Aid agencies have been providing essential services and support in the face of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The Taliban takeover in 2021, as U.S. and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their pullout after 20 years of war, sent Afghanistan’s economy into a tailspin and transformed the country, driving millions into poverty and hunger. Foreign aid stopped almost overnight.

Sanctions against the Taliban rulers, such as a halt in bank transfers and the freezing of billions of dollars in Afghan foreign assets, have already limited access to global institutions. Before the Taliban takeover, aid funds aided the country’s aid-dependent economy.

U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths is due to visit Afghanistan to discuss the ban.

Potzel’s meeting with Hanafi came as a United Nations survey revealed that a third of NGOs led by women in Afghanistan have been forced to halt 70 per cent of their operations due to the ban, and another third have ceased all operations entirely.

The U.N. Women’s Department said 86 per cent of the 151 organizations surveyed have either stopped or are functioning partially.

It also said the lack of women in the distribution of aid has had a significant impact on the Afghan population.

COP27 gave new hope for international cooperation on climate action: Mohieldin

COP27 gave new hope for international cooperation on climate action: Mohieldin

According to Ahram Online, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt Mahmoud Mohieldin said the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh exceeded expectations, giving new hope for international cooperation on climate action.

Mohieldin made his remarks during a video conference on Friday during the RAISINA Dialogue 2022 event, which was organized by the Observer Research Foundation in India. He is also the UN special envoy on financing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The UAE, which is preparing to host next year’s climate summit, confirmed its commitment to building on the outcomes of COP27 in preparing its climate action roadmap, according to Mohieldin.

The multiple ongoing crises the world is going through should not be ignored when evaluating the outcomes of COP27 or when predicting the results of COP28, Mohieldin said.

He explained that COP27 did well by concentrating on enforcing pledges made at previous COPs. He also advocated for a practical approach to integrating climate action with the goals of inclusive economic growth and long-term development.

The outcomes of COP27 included measures and initiatives that built on the base established by the 2015 Paris agreement and COPs since Mohieldin added.

The most important outcome of the conference was the creation of a loss and damage fund, which was an unprecedented success that will always be associated with Sharm El-Sheikh conference.

The fund will be established from the beginning of the new year until the start of COP28 in Dubai in November when a 24-member provisional committee representing developing and developed countries will make recommendations on activating and managing the fund.

Among the other achievements of COP27, Mohieldin listed “the launching of Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda that covers food and agriculture, water and nature, coasts and oceans, human settlements and infrastructure.”

The agenda includes the establishment of a global early warning system to deal with the effects of the climate crisis, the release of a high-level expert report under the direction of the UN Secretary-General, emphasizing the importance of implementing its ten recommendations to deal with NetZero pledge criteria and procedures, avoiding greenwashing, and regulating sustainable financing markets for a sustainable economy.

The climate champion noted that the need for a just energy transition was highlighted during COP27 through common investments to draw down fossil energy, increase investment in renewables and deal with the economic and social impacts of the transition process.

This was announced alongside the announcement of several just energy transition programs, including a $20 million project funded by the program partners. This was quickly followed by another $15.5 billion project in Vietnam involving both the government and the private sector.

“In general, in the light of dynamics and ramifications of war in Ukraine, the Sharm El-Sheikh conference was keen to confirm the non-retreat from previous COP commitments regarding emissions reduction, and the completion of mitigation programs according to Glasgow climate alliance outcomes,” Mohieldin stated.

He also mentioned financing, investment, and project development initiatives, such as the launch of the Africa Carbon Markets initiative. Participants at the conference established its regulatory framework, mechanisms, and pricing, as well as discussed ways to reduce debt in developing countries by exchanging it for climate investments, drawing on the experiences of Seychelles, Belize, and Barbados.

Mashat, UN discuss final preparations to launch 2023-2027 UNSDCF for Egypt

International Cooperation Minister Rania el Mashat discussed with UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt Elena Panova final preparations for launching the 2023-2027 United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for Egypt.
The two sides also discussed the activities associated with the joint steering committee and technical groups.
Mashat, meanwhile, hailed the close relations binding Egypt and the UN, terming their partnership as “long-established”.
The launch of the new strategic partnership framework for Egypt constitutes a new chapter of joint cooperation and represents a perfect opportunity to review the cooperation between the agencies and the programs of the UN and the national bodies, added the minister.
In a related context, Mashat discussed with Panova bilateral cooperation in the various development spheres, including the National Green Projects Platform “NWFE”, to drive Egypt’s green transition and switch toward using renewable energy sources.
Panova, meanwhile, said that the UN is keen on holding cooperation with the government, especially at the level of technical support, to contribute to efforts aiming to attain fair transition to sustainable economy and advancing climate action through “NWFE” platform. MENA


President Sisi keen on finalizing ‘Decent Life’ projects: Local development min

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is keen on finalizing the first stage of projects of the presidential initiative “Decent Life” to achieve the aspirations of the Egyptian people, affirmed Local Development Minister Hisham Amna.

The minister made the remarks during his meeting on Monday19/12/2022 with UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt Elena Panova in the presence of a host of senior officials.

At the beginning of the meeting, Amna welcomed Panova’s visit to the ministry’s premises, lauding the level of cooperation and partnership between Egypt and the UN.

The ministry is keen on cooperation with the UN offices operating in Egypt, he added.

He also pointed out to the ministry’s cooperation with the World Food Organization (WFO) through Egypt Hands digital platform, which was launched to support women and youth and provide jobs in traditional handicraft sphere nationwide.

The minister, meanwhile, welcomed the UN’s support to this important project for women and youth in the governorates.

Talking about the “Decent Life” presidential initiative, the minister said that it was launched by President Sisi and aims to provide a decent life for the most vulnerable groups nationwide.

The minister also said that he will exert all the necessary efforts in cooperation with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and Housing Minister Assem el Gazzar in order to prepare for the upcoming session of the World Urban Forum.

Panova, for her part, said that she is delighted to visit the villages, which are part of “Decent Life” initiative.

She further said that the strategic partnership framework between Egypt and the UN for 2023-2027 will be signed soon.

This strategic partnership will include several projects and initiatives between the Egyptian government and the various UN bodies, she added.

Commenting on the “Decent Life” presidential initiative, Panova said that all the necessary support will be presented to such pioneering initiative.

Panova also lauded the outstanding success of the World Cities Day, which was held in Luxor and organized by the Local Development Ministry.

Libya: UN expert to assess violence against women and girls

Libya: UN expert to assess violence against women and girls

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem will visit Libya from 14 to 19 December 2022, at the invitation of the Government of National Unity.

During her visit, Alsalem will examine systemic causes of gender-based violence against women and girls and the situation faced by those who encounter multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Her focus will be on nationals of Libya, stateless, refugee, asylum seeker and other migrant women and girls of different backgrounds.

The expert will review implementation of Libya’s international commitments to legal, institutional and policy frameworks to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls by both State and non-State actors.

The Special Rapporteur will visit Tripoli and Benghazi and meet representatives of Government, law enforcement, UN officials, civil society, human rights defenders, women in politics and women and girls who are survivors of violence.

“While I am aware that the current situation in Libya is complex, my visit will highlight the multifaceted realities facing all women and girls in the country, particularly survivors of gender-based and conflict-related violence, and in doing so I am expressing my solidarity with the survivors of violence, and the numerous stakeholders that support them. I will also seek to establish constructive dialogue with all relevant stakeholders with a view to establishing more effective preventative interventions and policies as well as better navigating the extraordinary challenges they face” Alsalem said.

The UN expert will hold a press conference to share preliminary findings from her visit on Monday 19 December at 09:30am in Tripoli (venue to be advised). Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a full report on the country visit to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2023.

Egypt and the UN celebrated the International Volunteer Day (IVD)

Egypt and the UN celebrated the International Volunteer Day (IVD), which falls on December 5 of each year with the aim to promote solidarity through volunteering.

This year focuses on contributions by volunteers with the aim to make positive change in their societies, particularly where climate action and sustainable development is concerned.

The celebration was attended by Social Solidarity Minister Nevine el Qabbaj, UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt Elena Panova, UN Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative in Egypt Alessandro Fracassetti and UN Volunteers (UNV) coordinator in Egypt Heba Nosseir.

The IVD is celebrated this year, with millions of volunteers worldwide working in solidarity to underscore the life-changing impact volunteering has on millions of people every day.

Over a billion people volunteer their time, skills, and experience to help improve their communities. From providing practical support to vulnerable children and adults to advising on sophisticated technical and legal issues, volunteers are present at all levels of society. Each one brings a specific set of skills to their tasks.

In line with Egypt hosting COP 27 and in partnership with the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Volunteerism Network Members, UNV Egypt recognizes the best national and UN Volunteers.

The national volunteer award was adopted by the Minister of Social Solidarit during IVD 2021. This year, the award is given under the theme of Environment. UNV Egypt is recognizing best performing UN Volunteers under three categories, initiative, innovation and teamwork, in addition to, special award for the 9 UN Volunteers mobilized for COP 27.

Addressing the ceremony, Minister Qabbaj praised the important role played by volunteers in Egypt, pointing out that 600 volunteers had been selected to contribute to the organization of the COP27 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el Sheikh last month.

Egypt has some 600,000 volunteers working across the country with the aim to help improve their communities, families, schools and universities, Qabbaj said. They also help with implementing many national projects, she added.

The minister, however, underscored the need to have a systematic mechanism for volunteering and securing enough training for volunteers.

UNV coordinates IVD on December 5 every year to recognize and promote the tireless work, not just of UN Volunteers, but of volunteers across the globe.

AU, UN Women Renew Commitment to Advance Gender Equality in Africa

AU, UN Women Renew Commitment to Advance Gender Equality in Africa

The African Union Commission’s Women, Gender and Youth Directorate (WGYD) in collaboration with UN Women Eastern and Southern Africa and the UN Women Liaison Office to the AU agreed on drafting a joint Framework aligned with the African Union and the UN Women strategic gender priorities for Africa, Official press release confirmed.

The AU’s press release states that the Framework will take into account both UN Women’s expertise and mandate as the world’s leading advocate for women and girls, as well as the AU’s special positioning and access to African policymakers at the highest levels across the continent.

It is aligned with both organization strategies on gender equality, in particular the WGYD Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy and the UN Women Agenda 2030.

The participants also agreed on five key areas that should be included in the new ‘AU-UN Women Collaborative Framework’, particularly: Programmatic support on GEWE; Challenges at the Operational Level; Resources; Support, and Opportunities.

According to the official press release, the three-day meeting served as a platform for the AUC and UN Women to strengthen their strategic partnership on gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa over the course of the next five years.