The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, the National Council for Women (NCW), the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), launched Noura, a symbol for all adolescent girls in Egypt, in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.
The launching of “Noura” took place in a reception organized on October 17th, 2021 during the Gouna Film Festival, and was titled “Investing in Girls for the Bright Future of Egypt”, which falls under the Egyptian Girl Initiative, championed by NCW and NCCM, and is in line with their shared priority with the United Nations in Egypt to empower adolescent girls and bring transformative change to the country.
The reception also witnessed the launch of the Girls Assets Framework, which is a tailored program that will respond to the unique circumstances facing adolescent girls; to empower them and build their social, health and economic assets, so they can reach their full potential.
This was the first public debut of Noura, the icon of the Girls Assets Framework and the soon-to-be symbol for investing in girls in Egypt to partners, filmmakers and supporters.
The reception brought together Dr. Hala al-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Maya Morsy, President of the NCW, Dr. Sahar al-Sonbaty Secretary-General of NCCM, Rania al-Mashat, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Ambassador Nabila Makram, Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs and Ms. Frederika Meijer, Representative of UNFPA in Egypt.
Han Maurits Schaapveld, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Egypt, Ms. Elena Panova, UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Ibrahim Laafia, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to the Arab Republic of Egypt on behalf of the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Egypt, Eng. Noura Selim, Executive Director Sawiris Foundation for Social Development and Ms. Mervat Soltan, Chairperson of the Export Development Bank of Egypt (EBE) also participated in the event.
During her address, Dr. Hala Al-Said stressed that Noura’s program will create a transformational change in the lives of girls in Egypt, adding that it is absolutely necessary to invest in our teenage girls and improve their lives today, explaining that our future depends on the support and quality of life provided to girls at this crucial age.
“We support the right of every girl to pursue ambitious goals, pursue the education and training she needs to become a productive participant in the labor force,” Dr. Hala al-Said said. “Combined with access to appropriate health programs and safety protocols, this leads to the development of a sense of belonging, making investing in girls a natural and feasible catalyst for all of the SDGs.”
Al-Said stressed that Egypt has made great progress in recent years to promote the integration of women’s issues in various policies and enhance their political, economic and social roles, and this is evident in the Human Development Report in Egypt, recently launched by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. She added that despite the major challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Egypt is all the more determined to empower women, and the Egyptian government is firmly committed to placing women at the center of comprehensive development programs, most notably the “Decent Life” initiative and the Egyptian Family Development Project.
During her address, Dr. Maya Morsy stressed that the Egyptian government is invested in empowering and supporting girls, in light of a political will that believes that Egyptian girls are able to change the world, by providing opportunities that enable them to create their future.
Dr. Morsy added that when girls are educated, know their rights and enjoy good health, families become healthier and more stable, and future mothers become aware of ways to care for their children and plan their families.
On her part, Dr. Sahar Al-Sonbaty stated that the “Noura” initiative aims to empower teenage girls, especially in marginalized communities at risk of harmful practices, by supporting their rights and bridging the gender gap. She highlighted the need for the provision of quality services and information and the development of a participatory action plan for the initiative that serves as the main driver of change in order to ensure a more equitable future for girls, in line with Egypt’s 2030 vision to achieve sustainable development.
She noted that girls are “the cornerstone of development,” and we should pay attention to developing their knowledge and skills so that they can create a bright future to assume leadership and important positions.
Al-Mashat also highlighted the diversity of programs implemented by the various entities enhances efforts to empower women and increase their contribution to economic activities, explaining that the ministry works with multilateral and bilateral development partners and relevant parties from the public and private sector, and civil society to develop programs and coordinate partnerships aimed at opening up prospects for women’s participation.
Al-Mashat lauded Noura’s launch and pointed out the importance of the initiative’s role in supporting government efforts in this regard, as it focuses on girls through customized programs.
Ambassador Nabila Makram explained that the launch of the “Noura” coincides with the empowerment of Egyptian women and the development progress the country is witnessing, reflecting a special interest in girls who will bear the responsibility of tomorrow’s society, praising the distinguished successes achieved by the Egyptian girl abroad, the results of which appeared in the initiative of the Ministry of Immigration. For dialogue for young people studying abroad MEDCE, in addition to the second and third generation.
Ambassador Nabila Makram announced the launch of cooperation with the National Council for Women, through which Egyptian girls abroad can provide support and transfer knowledge to girls of their age at home.
The Minister said she is keen on portraying a model for students of her school so that girls are able to paint a more ambitious picture of the future through role models.
Schaapveld, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Egypt and the EU Gender Champion expressed his happiness to be a part of the efforts supporting the development of a comprehensive approach to combat all harmful practices that Egyptian adolescent girls face, as well as, supporting them to fulfill their potential.
“Societies often focus on teaching girls to be good partners in marriage, and while marriage is a source of joy and love, girls’ aspirations should not only be confined to marriage and seeking the right man. With the launch of Noura character, we aim to raise awareness and break the cycles of harmful practices and together with our partners UNFPA, Care and the respective national authorities in Egypt, provide girls with better health, economic and educational opportunities to realize their dreams,” stated Schaapveld.
The panel discussions were led by UNFPA Global Goodwill Ambassador Catarina Furtado and Eng. Noura Selim, Executive Director of the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.
“There are around nine million adolescent girls in Egypt,” Meijer said, “Investing in them and allowing them to reach their full potential means investing in the entire population. We must bridge the gender gap and prepare these young girls for the future as active and skilled citizens.”
UNFPA also signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development as well as EBE to support the Girls Assets Framework.
“We are truly proud of this new partnership, which has allowed us to be part of an initiative that aims to create a better future for Egyptian girls – through empowering them to realize their own potential. We firmly believe that this goal can be achieved by providing these young girls with training and skill-building opportunities, high-quality education, access to health and social services, as well as enhancing their surrounding environment, which would in effect open numerous doors of opportunity for them. Gender equality and the empowerment of women are top priorities of the Foundation’s programs and projects – which are implemented in various different governorates in Egypt. That said, we hope that through this strong new partnership we’ll be able to achieve more impact in the lives of Egyptian girls,” Eng. Noura Selim, Executive Director of the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, said.