The Egyptian female winners of L’Oréal–UNESCO science award

The “L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for Women in Science National Awards” was recently granted to three Egyptian scientists to celebrate their outstanding achievements in science.

Post-doctoral pharmacy student at Tanta University, Aya Atef received the fellowship award for finding natural polymers with a molecular footprint, which aids patients of a rare genetic disease in children, phenylketonuria (PKU).

While Mai Gamal, also a doctoral student, who works as a research assistant at the German University in Cairo (GUC) Computer Science and Engineering Program, won the fellowship award for her research on how to use computer modeling to develop neuroimaging biomarkers that will give us a better understanding and a more accurate diagnosis of depression as a mental disorder.

And last but not least, Mai Taha, yet another post-doctoral pharmacy student at Cairo University, has accepted her fellowship award for conducting research on the practical use of nanotechnology to successfully eliminate antibiotic-resistant bacteria and treat diabetic foot.

The award ceremony was held on Tuesday at Abdeen Palace, in eastern downtown Cairo. Among the attendees was Amr Farouk, Vice President of the Academy of Scientific Research & Technology (ASRT), Nadia Zakhary, former minister of scientific research UNESCO office representative in Egypt, who now heads the Scientific Research Committee at the NCW, and is the current director-general of L’Oréal Egypt, and a group of senior officials from institutes and research centers.

 

The National Council for Women reveals the reasons for women’s low labour-force participation.

The National Council for Women reveals the reasons for women’s low labour-force participation.

Maya Morsi, the President of the National Council for Women, participated in the fourth meeting of the Facilitative Committee of Partners of the Joint Program “Promoting productive and decent work for women in Egypt, Jordan and Palestine”, hosted by Egypt, to promote knowledge-sharing among Governments, development partners, employers, civil society organizations and United Nations agencies in the three countries.

Maya Morsi stated that one of the most difficult challenges facing the program is ensuring a strong presence of women in the workforce, pointing out that one of the factors causing low rates of female labour-force participation is the high cost of childcare and housework. Whereas changing legislation is simple, implementing it is difficult due to ideas, a rigid mentality, and a stereotypical view of women’s work.

She drew attention to a 2018 study on the economic empowerment of women conducted by the National Council for Women in collaboration with the World Bank, which identified the most prominent sectors for women’s employment, as the media, information, and communication technology industries experienced rapid growth while also providing effective tools to advance the development and social justice.

Entissar El Sisi: Women are the shield that protects the nation and its future

Egyptian first lady, Mrs. Entissar El Sisi, said in her statement on Friday, November 25, that Egypt is taking the necessary measures towards empowering women, preserving their rights, and putting a stop to gender-based violence.

Her statement coincided with the “International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women”

She wrote on her official Facebook page “On the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, Egypt is moving ahead to achieve women’s empowerment as they are key partners in building this nation”, describing women as the “shield” of saving this nation and its future.

IDSC publishes infographic on Egypt’s efforts to eliminate violence against women

The Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) has published an infographic in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is commemorated on November 25.

The official UN commemoration of the day is held this year under the global umbrella theme of the 2022 UNiTE Campaign: “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women & Girls”.

The infographic indicated that 85% of women around the world have been exposed to digital violence and abuse via the internet.

It tackled Egypt’s most prominent efforts to protect women against violence and discrimination, including the establishment of 27 anti-sexual harassment units at public universities, in addition to eight medical response units at a number of university hospitals to deal with women who have been subjected to violence.

The infographic also pointed out to the launch of a national plan to eliminate female genital mutilation (2022-2026).

Women are at risk due to sex-descriminating violence laws. A new report by “Equality Now”

The MENA region is among many countries, in which women aren’t given equal legal rights as men. This calls for an urgent implementation in the legal and policy framework.  Equality Now has issued a new policy briefing, Words & Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable to the Beijing +30 Review Process – Sex Discrimination in Violence Laws, which shows the inequality loopholes in laws related to violence against women and girls, allowing perpetrators to carry on with their violations without worrying about being punished.

Around 30% of women and girls, as estimated by WHO, have suffered physical and sexual abuse whether by their partners or strangers. These discriminating laws are causing this percentage to go higher, making things even worse. 

November 25 marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which serves as an opportunity to bring attention to this issue and ask for instant implementation of these laws or revoke sexist legislation altogether. A sample of these laws has already been reported by Equality Now.

Examples of these loopholes are quite clear in a lot of countries in the MENA region, including but not limited to, Libya and Kuwait’s “marry your rapist” alternative, the legal right permitting men to punish their wives in Iraq, and above all Egypt’s diluted penalty for men who kill their wives in response to adultery. 

As rape definitions vary from one country to another, women are more prone to lose their legal rights and face higher risks. Additionally, the lack of standard laws criminalizing online abuse results in little or no action.

Fortunately, some of these laws were revoked after being reported by Equality now in 2020, like Syria’s law exempting punishment for crimes of honor. Equality Now aspires to continue its quest to enforce immediate amendments to discriminating laws and provide a safer, and better future for women and girls all around the world.

Healthcare initiative scans over one million women

Last Wednesday, the ministry of health and population announced that the number of women scanned for early detection of maternal infections affecting infants has exceeded 1.680 M, following the presidential healthcare initiative launched in March 2020.

Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, Spokesman for the Health Ministry, stated that the initiative seeks early detection of hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis among pregnant women, in order to reduce the number of deaths caused by such diseases.

He added that the initiative also covers following up with the mother and the baby for a 42 days duration after birth, to discover and take the necessary measures against any possible risks.

 

Progress towards eliminating cervical cancer among women living with HIV

Major progress is currently occurring on all fronts, two years after the launch of the “Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer,” and documentation of the higher risk for cervical cancer that women living with HIV.

The number of women living with HIV, who underwent a screening for cervical cancer, has exceeded 1.9 million in no less than 19 countries. About 53 countries have either modified their policies to incorporate WHO’s recommendations or aim to do so within three years, in response to WHO’s latest guidelines on screening and treatment to prevent cervical cancer.

Countries, partners, implementers, funders, and civil society, have all been prompted by “The Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative” to instantly take up cervical cancer prevention and treatment. Director of WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Programmes, Dr Meg Doherty, said “It is a true global effort and the results in these few years are impressive. This commitment to saving women’s lives must continue.”

However, further measures must be taken. According to the previously published results of “impact of HIV on cervical cancer in South Africa,” we can completely end cervical cancer, notwithstanding the constant spread of HIV.  A substantial decline in the age-standardized occurrence of cervical cancer over time, was foreseen by three independent models, as a result of following WHO’s elimination strategy for vaccination, 2 lifetime cervical screens and high treatment coverage. Within the first 25 years, we avoided roughly one third of cumulative cervical cancer cases among women living with HIV and women overall.

Nevertheless, the prevention of cervical cancer for women living with HIV will be a much harder goal to achieve. Even after surpassing an impressive 85% reduction in the occurrence rate of cervical cancer, the elimination margin of less than four cases per 100 000 woman-years was barely reached, after regularly screening women living with HIV, precisely every three years.

The WHO’s guideline for screening and treatment for cervical cancer prevention, strongly recommended a more frequent screening of women living with HIV, along with spreading the awareness on safe and effective human papillomavirus vaccination.

Countries with higher HIV rate, are typically more subjected to cervical cancer, and thus in more need to increase their efforts towards achieving elimination.

Women’s participation in climate action is indispensable: Mohieldin

Women have leadership qualities and the ability to solve problems, which makes their participation in development and climate action indispensable, said UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt and UN Special Envoy on Financing 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda Mahmoud Mohieldin.

“Women all over the world have demonstrated their ability to make decisions and solve problems through their leadership of international organizations, governments, and ministries in various countries,” Mohieldin said during the opening session of Gender Day in Cairo, “Women’s Agency in Climate Dialogue and Implementation, Win-Win for All.”

Mohieldin said that women are victims of global crises such as poverty, hunger, a lack of funding, and a lack of education, adding that two-thirds of the world’s women are illiterate. Women account for 63 percent of the world’s poor, emphasizing the importance of improving their access to education and finance.

He emphasized the importance of pluralism and the need to improve women’s participation in development and climate action decision-making, highlighting the National Council for Women’s initiative in raising awareness among women about climate issues.

Mohieldin cited women’s active participation in the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, where they submitted over 1,000 projects out of the approximately 6,000 that were registered. Three of the 18 winning projects were submitted by women, he added.

Yasmine Fouad, the minister of environment, gave a speech on behalf of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Participants in the session included Rania El-Mashat, minister of international cooperation, Hala El-Said, minister of planning and economic development, Nevine El-Qabbaj, minister of social solidarity, Ghada Waly, undersecretary-general of the UN and executive director of the UN Office on Drugs, Maya Morsy, president of Egypt’s National Council for Women, Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women, and African women ministers, women leaders, and representatives of regional and international organizations.

In another session titled “Women and Climate Change Finance,” Mohieldin emphasized the importance of enhancing the role of women in the business sector, particularly given that COP27 is the summit of implementation and partnerships, by taking a comprehensive approach and reviewing the rules governing women’s participation in this regard.

Mohieldin mentioned the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, which is being implemented at the governorate level in Egypt in collaboration with the ministries of planning, environment, and international cooperation, as well as several interested parties. The initiative saw an adequate representation of women in the six categories, but he added that there is a need to strengthen their participation in this initiative, noting that it will be held every year.

Mohieldin explained that many projects related to climate change resilience and food security are led by women, which necessitates the provision of simple financing means. He emphasized that global financing conditions have a direct impact on women’s participation in local and international climate action.

He concluded his speech by emphasizing the importance of promoting women’s participation in leadership positions through appropriate legislation and behavioural changes.