Empowering Women for

a Balanced Society

Awareness Raising

We are well aware that women are facing challenges when it comes to finding a balance between working and family life. Their main role in the Egyptian society is traditionally seen in being mothers and housewives, but we consider taking part in public and especially working life as highly important for the individual development of each citizen. Therefore we support the participation of women in public life and their right for employment and their own income by promoting the concept of gender equality in all components of SEKEM. Concrete actions to raise awareness for women and work have been taking place in NatureTex by film screenings for male and female employees and the establishment of a company journal tackling the issue of women and work. In the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development all students are attending an obligatory session for gender equality in their first year and are thereby encouraged to reflect on and discuss the situation of women in Egyptian society.

employees of naturetex sitting in meeting room

Supportive Work Environment

Since female employees are usually affected by obstacles concerning their employment related to their families and to the traditional norms of society, we support them by a women-friendly work environment. SEKEM is guaranteeing all employees a safe and clean workplace, which is especially important for women who are often not allowed to work in factories out of fear from harassment, because working conditions in a factory are not considered suitable for women. SEKEM is as well offering them the opportunity for additional skills courses for alphabetization, computer or languages in cooperation with the SEKEM Development Foundation. Additional to the skills development offers we established regular medical advice sessions for reproductive health for female employees from NatureTex and ISIS in order to give them general information about pregnancy and maternity as well as giving them the chance to discuss personal questions concerning their marital life and reproductive health. The support and appreciation from SEKEM as their employer is existential especially for young women who consider work an important value in their lives and want to keep their jobs also when they start building up their families.

Career Development

Since we have the biggest proportion of females in the workforce in our company NatureTex for organic cotton textiles and dolls production with around 30% women, we started a pilot project for women’s empowerment at the workplace there in 2012 to encourage them to keep their employment after marriage. Based on a gender-sensitive value chain analysis in cooperation with the GIZ (German Development Cooperation) the situation of women at work was analyzed to tackle their main obstacles at the workplace and concerning the social legitimacy of their work. Besides fully complying with the Egyptian Labor Law allowing maternity leaves and work break regulations to facilitate employability of women we started implementing trainings for technical and social leadership trainings as well as on-the-job trainings to support especially women in their career development.

All our activities to enhance women’s situation in education and work will be summarized in a gender strategy for SEKEM, which will be developed within 2015.

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