Voices from the Field Series: Egypt

03.05.2021 | Lobna Afify

CIPE staff members serve in the field year-round, helping launch and maintain programs to promote democracy and free enterprise. As the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8, our Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment (CWEE) asked several staff members to discuss the impact of their work in empowering and promoting women’s initiatives around the globe.

Why do you believe empowering women is important? 

Just as there was much need for women to join the market, to start businesses and in many cases, to provide for their families, women also need to be empowered to carry out those tasks. They face basic business challenges in their environment, but they often face double the challenge due to social and cultural barriers, and in some countries, legal ones, as well. Therefore, the empowerment they need is beyond building their capacity or giving them access to information and resources, it goes all the way to making them believe they can actually be heard and that by putting in effort in their businesses, they can affect the policymaking process and address their specific needs and general market needs at large.

What are some of the top priorities for women in business in your country? 

Inclusion. Women in my country can start their own businesses and can establish or join associations, but they will still be marginalized when it comes to the public debate and engagement in public policymaking.

The issue now is not having more women associations or businesses, it is to support women to become leaders within large, well-established business associations and federations. We also need women leaders in different policymaking parties and even within family businesses where they are usually excluded from top management posts due to gender inequality. We do not want women leaders among women, we want women leaders, period.

Who is a woman leader who inspires you and why? 

Dalia Ibrahim, who managed to overcome all barriers and gained her position as Chairperson in one of the large family businesses in Egypt.

“Dalia Ibrahim is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nahdet Misr Publishing House, the education and publishing group that over the course of the past 80+ years has evolved into a regional icon of knowledge and globally-recognized provider of cultural development in the Arab region, operating through six different entities. Dalia is also the Founder and CEO of EdVentures, the MENA region’s first corporate venture capital (CVC) specializing in education, culture and innovative learning solutions. Dalia is the recipient of the prestigious Arab League’s award: the Arab Women and Social Responsibility Award for the year 2020 in recognition of her 25+ year legacy of professional successes that were consistently coupled with a deep social responsibility.” (Source: her Linkedin profile)

Why is it important to celebrate International Women’s Day? 

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to recognize well-deserved successes and achievements, and it serves as a good reminder of much needed continued effort.