Egypt's economy minister named best in Arab world for female workforce plan

Hala Helmy El-Said is behind a drive to get 40 per cent of Egyptian women into the labour market

Hala Helmy El-Said has worked to boost women's participation in Egypt's workforce. Courtesy: Egyptian government 
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An Egyptian official behind a plan to significantly boost the number of women in the workforce was named best minister in the Arab world on Wednesday.

Hala Helmy El-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, was given the honour at an event hosted in Dubai.

The 63-year-old has set targets to significantly boost women's workplace participation to 40 per cent by 2030. Historically, the number of women in the workforce has been low in Egypt.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, praised Dr El-Said and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's government for their work.

She has won the title under the Arab Government Excellence Award, launched by the UAE in 2019 in partnership with the Arab League.

Today the best minister in the Arab world is female and we chose her because she is really good in what she does

Mohammed Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, was the top government official who attended the award ceremony.

"Part of her role was woman empowerment and, really, that's a good example of why she won," Mr Al Gergawi told The National.

“This is the spirit of the UAE. When we look at the United Arab Emirates, 62 per cent of the workforce in the federal government are female.

“So, we should go beyond differentiating between male and female and look at the quality. Today the best minister in the Arab world is female and we chose her because she is really good in what she does.”

Dr El-Said comes from a political family and her father was Egypt's minister of electricity in the 1970s. She has a doctorate in economics and has held senior positions at the Egyptian Banking Institute and Cairo University.

Sheikh Mohammed also named Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Trade the best government ministry in the region.

The first edition of the awards had 15 winners in the individual and institution categories.

The awards are meant to promote excellence among government bodies and celebrate Arab-led achievements.

Mr Al Gergawi said that governments that are ready for a post-Covid-19 era “will excel in the future”.

The pandemic has created a major disruption globally across all sectors, pushing governments to create new strategies in order to navigate through these uncertain times.

“We need to reflect and we revaluate,” he said.

“We launched the award before Covid-19. It came and disrupted a lot of things and the global government, but I believe that the post-Covid government will operate in a different way.

“The world has changed, service will be changed, and education, health and life is changing.

“Post-Covid, governments need to adopt. There is a new norm, and I think what will happen is that a government that is ready will excel in the future.”

Here is a list of the individual winners:

Best Arab Minister: Dr Hala Helmy El-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Egypt

Best General Manager of an Arab department: Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Mowkley, chief executive of the National Water Company, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Best Municipal Manager of an Arab City: Ahmad Al Manfouhi, director general of Kuwait Municipality

Best Arab Governor: Maj Gen Adel Mohamed Ibrahim Al Ghadhban, governor of Port Said, Egypt

Best Arab government employee: Col Dr Salah Al Din Ibrahim Al Tarabsha, consultant cardiac surgery, Queen Alia Heart Institute, Jordan

Best Arab government female employee (two winners): Noha Ahmed Al Sayed – Tech Centre at Al Muntazah district, Egypt; and Mona Muhammad Salman Mishaal, National Agricultural Research Centre, Jordan.

Here is a list of the winning departments and programmes:

Best Arab Ministry: Ministry of Commerce, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Best Arab project to develop the health sector: Optimal use of antibiotics, Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Bahrain

Best Arab project to develop infrastructure: Benban Solar Park, Egypt

Best Arab project for community development (two winners): Takaful – Jordan; and the home-based businesses programme, Khatwa, Bahrain

Best Arab project to develop education: Innovation Acceleration Programme – Oman

Best Arab initiative (three winners): single customs window for trade, OfOQ, Bahrain; Furijat initiative, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and the Mobile Licence service, Jordan

Best Arab application (three winners): Sakani, an app to facilitate real estate finance, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Tawasul App, a mobile version of the National Suggestion and Complaint system, Bahrain; and 'Start up Your Company', Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Best Arab project to empower youth: Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain.

Best Arab government department: Food and Drug Authority, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia