New milestones: more Egyptian women made it to corporate boards in 2022

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Even though significant strides have been made towards gender equality, it is still a fact that the world we live in is often dominated by men. Men have traditionally held power and influence in many areas of society, including the workplace, politics, and within families. As a result, women often face significant barriers to achieving their full potential, such as the gender pay gap, discrimination in hiring and promotion, and the expectation to take on more caregiving responsibilities than men.

According to World Bank data, the labor force participation rate for women in Egypt was 15.12 percent in 2022. This indicates that a large number of women in Egypt are engaged in the workforce and are contributing to their families’ incomes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean these women are getting proper recognition or promotions at their workplaces.

Interestingly, evidence suggests that companies with strong female representation at board and top-management levels perform better than those without and that gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance. The Women on Boards observatory (WoB) of the AUC School of business has been making tremendous efforts over the past few years, since its establishment in 2017, to ensure that women are properly represented on corporate boards in Egypt and the MENA region in both the public and private sector, and are not discriminated against in any way.

The WoB’s 2022 annual monitoring report has provided some interesting, positive results worth taking a look at.

A significant growth rate was observed as the 2022 WoB Indicator reached 19.7 percent in 2022, compared to 16.7 percent in 2021. The total number of women on boards of companies and banks in 2022 was 1320 compared to 1043 women in 2021, marking a growth rate of 26.6 percent, according to the report.

The results of the report were announced in a webinar by Ghada Howaidy, associate dean for executive education at AUC School of Business and founder of the WoB observatory. The webinar shed light on the main highlights and key takeaways of the report.

It’s worth noting that the annual report by WoB covers the data and information of almost 1000 companies and banks, with 236 EGX listed companies, 34 banks, 676 non-banking financial sector (NBFS) companies, and 82 public sector enterprise companies (holding and affiliate companies).

The number of women on boards of EGX listed companies increased from 289 to 324 between 2021 and 2022, with a positive growth rate of 12.1 percent. The banking sector, on its part, has also witnessed a 31.7 percent increase of the number of women on boards, going from 41 in 2021 to 54 in 2022.

In addition, the number of women on boards of public enterprise sector companies went up by 22.2 percent, from 35 women in 2021 to 44 in 2022, while women on boards in the NBFS shared a similar increase of 22.9 percent, reaching 924 in 2022 compared to 712 in 2021.

Moreover, the 2022 distribution of companies and banks by the number of women on boards showed an increase in the number of organizations with one and two women. The two-women-on-board percentages were boosted between 2021 and 2022 across most categories under study.

“This shift could have resulted from effective compliance with regulators’ decrees and decisions, necessitating the placement of two women on boards,” the report stated.

The aforementioned figures indicate that the annual gap of women on boards is steadily diminishing; only 692 more women must join company boards for WoB to reach its 30 percent women on boards target by the year 2030.

“We are proud of the success that has been achieved so far. We’re ambitious to do more,” said Ghada Howaidy in the webinar.

For her part, Maya Morsy, President of the Egypt National Council for Women said, “The 2022 report results prove that we are on the right track, moving forward, and sustaining the annual 3 percent increase achieved in the past three years. Having Egyptian women take leadership and decision-making positions is no longer just a dream, and has become a tangible reality.”

In a webinar to launch the 2022 WoB Annual Monitoring Report, Sherifa Sherif, executive director of the national institute of governance and sustainable development of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, expressed her happiness with the results that the report showed. “Women-focused socioeconomic policies are critical in Egypt,” she said. “We have advanced tremendously over the past years but there’s a lot of work to be done. Women make up 73 percent of nursing staff in the private sector, and 91 percent in nursing staff in the Ministry of Health. In addition to that, 42 percent of women are doctors and 51 percent of women are civil servants. Unemployment among Egyptian females has decreased in the fourth quarter of 2022 to become 19.3 percent. More and more women are joining the labor market in Egypt, with many of them being in leadership positions,” Sherif added.

For her part, Christine Arab, Country representative of the UN Egypt country office said “we’re so pleased to see the investment and the support from the government of Egypt continuing and growing.”

“All of the research in Egypt shows that whether a woman works outside of the home or inside of the home, she has the same number of hours in terms of taking care of the family, and that’s a difficult thing if it isn’t supported more. It hampers women’s abilities to advance in a workplace. So it’s very helpful and important to see where advancement is happening for women,” Arab added.

Arab attributed the noticeable progress to the measures that the Egyptian government has taken. These measures require entities like the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), and EGX that there be a certain percentage of women on boards. These measures are deemed  crucial for the shift towards better representation of women on boards, according to Arab.

The WoB Observatory is recognized by the Egypt National Council of Women as an official entity empowering women. WoB partners with many prominent government bodies to work towards more gender equality and diminish the gender gap in Egypt.

To read the WoB 2022 annual monitoring report, click here.

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