[Photograph: Egyptian Ministry of Manpower]
SVRI World Bank Group Development Marketplace #16Days 2017 Blog Series
Written by Dr Ramadan Mohamed, the American University in Cairo
In some settings, if gendered norms that support men’s violence against women are not addressed, the economic empowerment of women can inadvertently propagate gender-based violence (GBV). The Gender Equity Model (GEME) Project brings together the Egyptian Ministry of Manpower, community development NGOs and private firms in an innovative intervention that addresses the intersections between women’s economic empowerment and GBV.
Although employment is usually seen as a resource for women’s empowerment, it does not automatically translate into better status and lower rates of violence for women. When work is a major defining factor of masculinity, working women may face a greater risk of domestic violence. Research found that organization-based programs aimed at promoting gender equity within the workplace that did not pay attention to changing work culture could induce employee backlash, resulting in hostile work environments for women, poor performance evaluations of women’s work by their male colleagues and supervisors, ultimately impeding women’s promotion prospects.
Women in Egypt face strong barriers in accessing the labour market. When employed in the private sector, women are less likely than men to remain employed, to receive training or to get promoted. Egyptian women, both employed or not, are also exposed to high levels of sexual harassment in the streets, and physical and emotional violence from their husbands, fathers and other male relatives. While the Egyptian government has set increasing women’s economic participation as a national goal, there is no explicit policy to address gender-based violence as both a deterrent to, and a potential adverse outcome of greater gender equity in the workplace. This innovative project aims to address this gap.
Building on Success and Filling Gaps
The Social Research Center (SRC) of the American University in Cairo has previously partnered with the Egyptian Government on two interventions targeting women’s economic empowerment. The first intervention was part of the Results Based Initiative Program; a collaboration between the World Bank, UNIFEM and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). The Gender Equity Model, Egypt (GEME) was implemented through the Ministry of Investment, with SRC as the local partner responsible for developing and testing that model. The second initiative, Salheya was a collaboration between the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), UN Women and SRC, aimed at enhancing women’s economic empowerment through a wide package of community-based interventions.
The GEME Project builds upon these two projects. Current political stability coupled with the Egypt 2030 vision for sustainable development, offers a timely space for the Ministry of Manpower to revitalize and extend the GEME to include a focus on preventing violence against women both in the workplace and domestically.
The GEME Intervention and Pilot Project: The new GEME model intervenes at multiple levels, including the community and private sector. The expanded version of GEME targets private firms that employ, or could employ women alongside the communities in which these firms are situated. The intervention will work with the private firms to strengthen their approach to gender equity in employment and to develop a women-friendly working environment that is both productive and respectful. Whilst at the same time, the project will work in targeted communities on building understanding and response to domestic violence. The first step is to understand, through a baseline survey, how men and women in the targeted communities construct gender roles and relationships, with a focus on religious and social misconceptions that promote justifying inter-spousal violence. Such misconceptions will be challenged using culturally-sensitive tailored awareness raising sessions. Esteemed religious and social leaders will be recruited to participate in these sessions.
The new GEME model: The new GEME model will be piloted in an industrialized urban settlement in Sharqaya Governorate. The pilot GEME will target a number of medium to large private firms that have active human resources departments, are expanding in terms of capital and labour, and are aspiring to improve their public image. A community development non-governmental organization will work as a liaison between the government, the private firms, and the surrounding communities. The NGO will host several activities aimed at raising awareness and challenging misconceptions related to domestic violence in the targeted communities.
Simultaneously, the SRC will support the Egyptian Ministry of Manpower to strengthen its gender sensitive oversight of private corporations. MOM Gender Unit (MOM-GU), an active partner in the Salheya initiative, will be the main implementing partner of the new GEME project. Through specialized training of trainers, SRC will raise the capacity of MOM-GU and other relevant ministry agents to fulfil their mandate, through monitoring the mainstreaming of gender equity and GBV protection in the firms.
[Photograph: Egyptian Ministry of Manpower]
Evaluating GEME: SRC will use a controlled quasi-experiment design to monitor and evaluate the impact of the expanded GEME model. Matched communities and matched firms will be selected and divided into treatment and control units. Pre- and post-intervention data will be collected to test for baseline equivalence between the two groups and to assess the impact of the intervention through a difference-in-differences approach.
SRC and MOM-GU are currently developing and strengthening project partnerships as well as finalizing the details of the pilot intervention and its monitoring and evaluation framework. After securing the required ethical clearance, baseline data collection activities will begin in the targeted firms and communities, as well as in the set of matched control firms and communities.
For more information contact:
Ramadan Mohamed firstname.lastname@example.org
Laila El-Zeini email@example.com
 Macmillan, Ross and Rosemary Gartner. 1999. When she brings home the bacon: Labor-force participation and the risk of spousal violence against women. Journal of Marriage and Family, 61(4): 947-958.
 Leck, Joanne D. 2002. Making employment equity programs work for women. Canadian Public Policy / Analyse de Politique, 28, Supplement: Occupational Gender Segregation: Public Policies and Economic Forces: S85-S100.
 Economic Research Forum. 2004. Egypt Country Profile: The Road Ahead for Egypt. Cairo: Economic Research Forum for Arab Countries, Iran, and Turkey; Nassar, Heba. 2003. Egypt: structural adjustment and women’s employment. In Eleanor Abdella Doumato and Marsha Pripstein Posusney (ed.) Women and Globalization in the Arab Middle East: Gender, Economy & Society. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers
 Ministry of Health and Population, El-Zanaty and Associates and ICF International. 2015. Egypt Demographic and Health Survey 2014. Cairo, Egypt and Rockville, Maryland, USA: Ministry of Health and Population and ICF International; NCW. 2012. Violence Against Women. Cairo, Egypt: National Council for Women; Ebaid, Neama. 2013. Sexual harassment in Egypt: a neglected crime. Paper presented at the Symposium on Culture Diplomacy & Human Rights, Berlin, Germany, 27 May to 1 June.