Mourad Wahba Remarks: International launch of Egypt’s campaign "Al Taa' Al marbouta"

Mar 15, 2017

Mourad Wahba
United Nations Assistant Secretary-General
Assistant Administrator and Director of Regional Bureau for Arab States
United Nations Development Programme
61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt
International launch of Egypt’s campaign "Al Taa' Al marbouta"
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
ECOSOC Chamber - Conference Building, UN Headquarters - New York

Distinguished Colleagues;

Ladies and Gentleman;

I have the pleasure of joining you today to globally launch this innovative and successful Egyptian campaign "Al Taa' Al marbouta, the Secret of Your Power,” which aims at enabling societies to effectively address stereotypes that hinder women from reaching their full potential and to break down barriers impeding gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

I thank the President of Egypt for his support of this initiative and all the work of the National Council for Women, the declaration by the President of 2017 as the Year of Egyptian Women is an important mark of this support.

May I also say, at the outset, what an honour it is to be sharing the podium with Ambassador Mervat Tallawy. As a pioneer of women’s empowerment in Egypt and the Arab World, and indeed at the United Nations, Ambassador Tallawy showed by example that a woman’s place is everywhere!

I thank the Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt for inviting me to join my dear friend, former UNDP colleague, and President of Egypt’s National Council for Women, Dr. Maya Morsy; the Executive Director of UN-Women, USG Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and other esteemed partners.

Welcome Maya, and congratulations on receiving the President’s endorsement of the “National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030,” which you and Council members worked tirelessly to realize. This is an important milestone in 2017, the “Year of Egyptian Women.”

I understand that the national campaign served as an important conduit for wide public engagement in the formulation of your strategy. That it provided a vital participatory mechanism through strong presence on social media platforms, wide following on television and radio, amassing impressive reach figures, exceeding 40 million exposures --or half the entire population of Egypt!

When I was in Egypt a couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to watch the television ads that aired as part of this campaign, and was impressed by the simple, insightful approach that directly and primarily addressed women of all ages, calling on them to take pride in their womanhood, have confidence in their abilities, and to celebrate their self-worth. Such a focus on women’s agency in the pursuit of equality is an essential point of departure for women’s empowerment.

The campaign creatively invokes Al Taa' Al marbouta, the readily recognizable article of femininity in the Arabic language, to focus public attention on women’s strengths and promote women’s participation in all spheres of public life, attempting ultimately to influence the collective mind-set and redefine gender relations on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Paraphrasing UNESCO’s constitution, if it is in the mind where discrimination begins, then it is also in the mind that defences for acceptance and equality must be built. I similarly believe such campaigns that speak to hearts and minds are vital advocacy tools in our common struggle for gender equality. We encourage the pursuit of such moving campaigns in other countries across the Arab region and beyond.

As UN agencies, we are also proud of the successful example that this campaign has set with many of us in Egypt coming together and working as one to support a nationally owned goal, under the leadership of the mandated national institution, the National Council for Women. We especially appreciate the great collaboration with UN-Women and UNFPA and the generous support of the Government of Sweden. And we trust that the initiative will accelerate Egypt’s progress toward SDG 5 -- or all the SDGs, for that matter, as the advancing woman carries with her the key to every kind of progress.

In conclusion, we greatly value the initiative and guidance of the National Council for Women under your strong and enlightened leadership, Maya. Once again, congratulations on this successful campaign and you can count on our support every step of the way.

Thank you

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