The highly anticipated second edition of the CEO Women Conference commenced on Tuesday morning with the esteemed patronage of Prime Minister Dr. Mostafa Madbouly, and the valued support of the Ministry of Tourism and the National Council for Women. The conference saw the presence of prominent figures, including Soha Gendi, the Minister of State for Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates’ Affairs, Dr. Christina Arab, a representative of the United Nations, and Dr. Hani Mustafa, CEO of Smart Digital Green SDG.
This conference convenes women executives from renowned economic enterprises, both on the local and international fronts, alongside over 200 CEOs and leaders from government and private sectors.
They gathered to deliberate and present pivotal economic topics through four engaging panel sessions: Beyond Industry 4.0/5.0: Impact of AI on Society, CEO Women in Global Context: Challenges & Opportunities, Financing Sustainable Women’s Projects, and Education and CEO Excellence.
Ambassador Soha Gendy, Minister of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs, affirmed that Egyptian women are essential partners in sustainable development, with the Egyptian government actively working to empower them across various domains. Speaking at the “CEO Women” conference, she noted that Egyptian women have played prominent roles in Egypt’s history, symbolizing strength and leadership across diverse fields. The current political leadership places significant importance on women’s roles in society.
The Minister pointed out that the Egyptian government has launched a national strategy for the empowerment of Egyptian women, encompassing four main pillars: political empowerment and the reinforcement of women’s leadership roles, economic empowerment, social empowerment, and protection. This comprehensive strategy has led to several accomplishments, including the allocation of 25% of parliamentary seats to women, the appointment of six female ministers to ministerial portfolios, and achieving the highest rates of women’s participation in the labor market.
The rate of female unemployment decreased to 16.8% in 2022, down from 24.8% in 2014, and the percentage of working women increased to 39.1% in 2022, up from 38.6% in 2014. The proportion of women with bank accounts has risen to 27% in 2022, from 14% in 2014, reflecting their strong participation in promoting financial inclusion. Notably, there is now minimal to no discrimination against women in the approval of loans or financing.
The Minister stressed that the Ministry of Emigration is committed to supporting Egyptian women abroad through various events and programs, including the “Masr tastatea – ta’a el marbouta” conference and collaboration with the National Council for Women to raise awareness about the risks of illegal immigration in six Egyptian governorates, resulting in increased awareness among young men and women, as well as mothers. She also highlighted the training programs provided by the Ministry to prepare young men and women for opportunities overseas. The ministry also actively supports sustainable financing for small, medium, and micro enterprises, in line with Egypt’s sustainable development goals localization.
She elaborated on the positive economic impact, stating that we now witness minimal to no gender discrimination when it comes to loan approvals or financing.
The Minister emphasized the Ministry of Immigration’s dedication to supporting Egyptian women living abroad through various initiatives and programs. These include the “Masr tastatea bel taa el marbouta” conference, collaborative efforts with the National Council for Women to raise awareness about the risks of illegal immigration in six Egyptian governorates, and training programs to equip young men and women for opportunities overseas. The ministry also actively supports sustainable financing for small, medium, and micro enterprises, aligning with Egypt’s sustainable development goals.
She proudly noted that the Ministry of Immigration boasts a 40% female workforce, further emphasizing that Egyptian women are fully capable of achieving significant accomplishments in various fields if they are empowered and given the opportunities they deserve.
Dr. Mona Morad, the CEO of Open Air and the mastermind behind the CEO Women conference, expressed her delight at the launch of this remarkable second edition. She emphasized the conference’s core mission, which is to bolster the representation of women, ensuring equal opportunities for their advancement and triumph. The event aims to illuminate the stories of leading women in various fields, sharing their triumphs and challenges.
Dr. Morad remarked, “The conference operates with a resolute vision to empower and support women across multiple domains, especially those in leadership, the economy, education, entrepreneurship, technology, and artificial intelligence, both on a global and local scale. It takes place at a pivotal moment when the world is witnessing an unprecedented transformation in our understanding and appreciation of women’s leadership roles. We operate with a clear vision to establish a women-centric business community, where we focus on addressing their issues and all the challenges they encounter in their professional lives.”
She also highlighted that women, while shouldering their social and familial responsibilities, consistently demonstrate their ability to shape the future in innovative and resolute ways. This year’s conference is dedicated to exploring the role of technology and artificial intelligence in driving progress and innovation, acknowledging their pivotal roles in our daily lives.
Dr. Mona emphasized the foundational role of women in society, from which civilizations evolved. She commended their continuous efforts to nurture individuals capable of building societies and shaping the future. The conference is committed to increasing women’s involvement in technology and artificial intelligence and ensuring their leadership in these vital domains, where they have already achieved significant milestones.
Dr. Maya Morsi, President of the National Women’s Council, praised the significant success achieved by the conference in its previous edition. She emphasized in the speech delivered on her behalf by May Mahmoud that the Council was keen on supporting this edition as a confirmation of women’s rights, aligned with the vision of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
She added that this support also aims to enhance dialogue and present Egyptian and African perspectives in all sectors, as well as strengthen relationships among businesswomen in the Arab world and Africa. She
pointed out that Egypt has achieved significant success in the last nine years, highlighting that the National Women’s Strategy plays a crucial role through its four pillars in promoting women’s leadership roles with the aim of maximizing women’s representation in the workforce.
She also mentioned the establishment of the Observatory for Egyptian Women, which, through its reports, enables us to monitor and assess women’s work and address the specific gender gap in Egyptian boardrooms. The report for the year 2022 showed that women have achieved significant success in the boards of various companies, with a 22% increase in the Egyptian banking sector in 2022. Listed companies on the stock exchange increased to 17%, and the public sector saw a 9.3% increase in women’s representation. Women’s representation in boardrooms in most sectors has been strengthened, aligning with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s directives during the celebration of Egyptian Labor Day to expedite achieving gender equality, as the inclusion of Egyptian women in decision-making positions supports the realization of Egypt’s Vision 2030.
Mrs. Christina Arab, the United Nations Women’s Agency representative in Egypt, said: “Egypt has the highest percentage of female university graduates, representing about 47%. However, women make up only around 21% in the private sector. This is not necessarily due to competence, but rather because some families in rural areas do not allow girls to work, as the situation of women in villages is different from that in cities.”
She added that women can become leaders and ministers, as the highest level of female leadership in the public sector has already been achieved despite global challenges and crises. She pointed out that the law ensures gender equality, and companies should adhere to these rules since female unemployment is five times that of men.
Mrs. Dorine Bourneton Martin, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, participated in the conference virtually and emphasized the International Telecommunication Union’s commitment to supporting women in various sectors and empowering them globally.
It is noteworthy that the CEO Women Conference is an annual platform devoted to fostering and strengthening economic ties among businesswomen and executives of major economic institutions, both internationally and across Africa. Its mission is to facilitate knowledge exchange and showcase the most successful experiences. The event is organized by ON AIR Group for the second consecutive year, emphasizing its commitment to advancing women’s leadership and economic empowerment.