In the 2014 Gender Gap Index, Sweden was ranked 4 out of 142 for gender equality. Egypt placed 129.
Only 26 percent of the Egyptian labour force consists of women, and there are glaring gaps in education as well.
Sweden has now announced that about €2 million, the equivalent of 18 million EGP, will be granted in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in order to improve women's rights in Egypt.
"Creation of jobs is one of the most important challenges of today," Charlotta Sparre, Ambassador of Sweden to Egypt, said of the contribution. "It is absolutely crucial for the progress of the country, and we hope that some of the methods and concepts used in the programme can be scaled up to reach even larger numbers."
The funds will be used to improve Egyptian women's access not just to jobs but also to education, public services, and justice. But the initiative is not new – it is an expansion of a programme which has already had significant results.
To combat violence against women, multiple universities in Egypt are now equipped with an anti-sexual harassment programme, and more than 33,000 women have been given free legal advice. Women's coalitions are growing and new job opportunities have been created, totaling 1,660,099 additional workdays for women.
The programme is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), using the Swedish grand and in partnership with the Egyptian government, national institutions and civil society.
"We are proud of our partnership with Sweden and national organizations to help fulfil women's aspirations for a better life and equal rights," said Anita Nirody, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. "Millions of women and girls are eager to take part actively in the society and contribute to the development of the country."
The grant for women's rights is just one way in which Sweden has been working with Egypt in recent years. The Swedish Embassy in Egypt also recently organized a Swedish-Egyptian fashion exhibition on the theme "Innovative design and cultural heritage", where Egytpia n fashion students who visited Sweden presented their work. Read more here.