Dr. Maya Morsi, president of the National Council for Women, has demanded equal wages for rural women, stressing that they play a vital role in rural development, agriculture, nutrition, and the reduction of poverty, and that they should be given more attention.
As cited by a statement of the Council on Monday, Dr Morsi made the remarks during a speech at the opening of the International Labour Organisation’s first academy for rural development in Luxor, saying that “the state must guarantee the rights of rural women to decent working conditions and the principle of equal pay, alongside quotas and targets for representation of rural women in decision-making positions, especially in parliament and administrative bodies at all levels.”
42% of working women in Egypt are employed in the agricultural sector, and of these 37% work with their family and do not receive a wage, according to statistics from the National Council for Women. Egyptian women working in the agricultural sector are also deprived of legal protection under Egyptian labour law no. 12/2003, despite 70% of agricultural work depending on women’s labour. Article 4, paragraph B of the law specifies the “exclusion of domestic workers, workers solely in agriculture, and the children of workers” from its protections.
Dr Morsi added that the number of beneficiaries of the village group savings and loans project has reached 9,000 women in 10 villages across 4 governorates. The village group savings and loans projects works to provide smalls loans to the families of these women, in order to empower them economically.
As for the results of the project, ‘One Village One Product,’ she said that the most important outcomes have been the establishment of a milk collection centre in Jafar village in Beni Suef, the training of 57 women in the manufacture, preparation, and packaging of vegetables, and the training of 52 women in managing small projects in the eastern governorate.
This all comes at the end of a 17 day campaign to empower rural women, launched by the Council at the beginning of October. It aimed to enable women to develop their communities, recognise innovative ways to take advantage of their resources, and to open marketing and sale channels for their products, to connect their voices with society.
The campaign included a video on the Council’s Facebook page, entitled ‘A Woman’s Message from Rural Egypt,’ which featured women from the countryside speaking about their lives and ambitions, and the greatest problems they face.
Maya Morsi also pointed out the efforts made by the National Council for Women in the field of economic empowerment, after it launched the “National ID Card programme,” which aims to assist and support all women without identity cards, in collaboration with the Ministry for the Interior, branches of the council across the governorates, civil organisations, and rural women’s leaders. She said that the Council had succeeded in supplying almost 3 million cards in the first phase of the project, from 2000 to 2015, and that it has issued over 600 thousand cards during the second phase, from June 2015 until now.
At the end of her speech, Dr Morsi gave a number of recommendations for the further integration of gender perspectives into all areas of rural affairs, such as the need for establishing gender departments in all ministries concerned with rural development. She stressed the need for the state to protect the rights of rural women, provide access to quality education for all girls and women in rural areas, and to make affordable health care services and facilities available to them.
Translated by Conor Fagan
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