EBRD and ENR launch first gender awareness campaign in Egypt

By Nibal Zgheib

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  • EBRD and ENR join efforts to deliver safer transport services
  • Key milestone in journey towards high-quality, safe rail services for Egyptian women and men
  • Awareness campaign part of larger EBRD first-of-its-kind gender programme with ENR, funded by Japan

A partnership between Egyptian National Railways (ENR), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) is making the Egyptian rail network safer for female passengers.

The partners launched today in Cairo a public awareness campaign on gender, called El Sekka Amman (“The (Rail)Way is Safe”), to combat sexual harassment on public transport in Egypt.

The campaign marks a key milestone in efforts to provide secure train services adapted to the needs of male and female passengers.

El Sekka Amman is part of a larger, first-of-its-kind EBRD gender programme with ENR, funded by Japan, to help develop institutional capacity to identify, respond to and manage gender-based violence on its services. 

The campaign launch event was held under the auspices of the Minister of Transport, Kamel El Wazir. It was attended by ENR Chairman, Ashraf Raslan, NCW President, Maya Morsy, and Founding Partner of CID Consulting, Laila Iskandar, who was formerly Egypt’s Minister of State for Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements and Minister of State for Environmental Affairs.

The EBRD was represented by Managing Director of the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, Heike Harmgart, and Director of Gender and Economic Inclusion, Barbara Rambousek.

Ms Harmgart, said: “This campaign is a key milestone for Egypt and we are very proud to reach it together with ENR through the EBRD’s investment in infrastructure and strong local partnerships, including with the National Council for Women. Our joint efforts will help improve women’s access to transport and safe mobility, which is vital for their full integration and contribution to the economy.”

The awareness campaign includes billboards, promotional videos and new audio announcements that will be used on the Cairo-Tanta and Cairo-Menouf-Itay lines, two of the busiest train routes. It also includes an enhanced presence of volunteers to inform the public about the campaign and the methods of reporting harassment. In addition, passengers will be informed via social media, contributing to a more open dialogue about safe transport in Egypt.

The campaign will be complemented by measures to ensure sustainable outcomes and drive social change. These include a new customer service hotline for harassment reports, improved signalling, and dedicated training for ENR staff and security personnel. The campaign and its associated measures have been designed in line with international best practice.

In recognition of its outstanding commitment to enhancing women’s inclusion, ENR won the EBRD’s Environmental and Social Award in 2018 and again in 2020.

ENR is the second-oldest railway company in the world and is considered to be the backbone of passenger transport in Egypt, with about 1.2 million passenger journeys per day. By improving safety on trains and platforms, ENR expects to increase the number of women travelling on its network by 3 percentage points (from 16.8 per cent in 2015 to 19.8 per cent in 2022).

The joint engagement of the EBRD and ENR to strengthen safety and security on public transport and to promote gender equality began in 2014. To date, the EBRD – together with donor support from Japan and the EBRD’s SEMED Multi-Donor Account – has supported, with more than €400 million, ENR’s long-term investment plan to renew its ageing fleet and improve the safety and quality of passenger rail services. These investments also aim to support ENR’s transformation into a more efficient operator.

The Bank has invested over €7 billion in 125 projects in Egypt to date. The EBRD’s areas of investment there include the financial sector, agribusiness, and manufacturing and services, as well as infrastructure projects such as power, municipal water and wastewater services, and transport.

*The donors to the SEMED MDA are:  AustraliaFinlandFranceGermanyItaly, the NetherlandsNorwaySpain, SwedenTaipei China and the United Kingdom.

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