Gender Equality in the Egyptian Higher Education System

Title

Gender Equality in the Egyptian Higher Education System

Name of the institution(s)

Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany

Qualification level concerned

EQF 6

EQF 7

Country concerned

Egypt

Theme(s)

Mission/Role of Professional Higher Education

Keywords

access to PHE, internationalisation, participation to PHE, social dimension

Summary

Gender Equality in the Egyptian Higher Education System aims at establishing a dialogue on gender justice between Freie Universität Berlin and Egyptian universities and at developing and implementing equal opportunity measures in the Egyptian higher education system. Project partners are the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education as well as the Universities of Cairo, Alexandria, Sohag and South Valley. The cooperation received support in funding by the DAAD –  The German Academic Exchange Service

Taking into account a large gender imbalance, especially among higher education assistant professors and professors, this project set the following objectives:

–       To establish a dialogue on gender justice in higher education and beyond between Freie Universität Berlin and Egyptian universities, thus also improving the university partnerships and building a transnational network;

–       To develop and implement measures to improve mechanisms for equal opportunities in Egyptian higher education institutions;

–       To support Egyptian university management in promoting a family friendly environment at the university;

–       To qualify university personnel for gender sensitive teaching and research.

With these measures, the project aims at contributing to the transformation process at Egyptian universities and at adding an international perspective to gender and diversity discourses at Freie Universität Berlin.

Looking at the whole context, it is clear that women account for about 35% of professors at the universities in Cairo and Alexandria, the universities thus having a higher percentage of female professors than most German universities. At the universities in Upper Egypt however, women – although being half of the students – remain under-represented on all levels of university staff. Furthermore most universities lack programs to balance academic career and family duties and to facilitate the integration of female graduates in the labor market. The involvement of four different Egyptian universities enables the establishment of a not only transnational but also inner-Egyptian dialogue on equal opportunities and gender justice.

The Freie Universitet Berlin has a long tradition of research in the field of gender equality, and through the previous cooperation with Egyptian Universities, and based on the data shown above, this was seen as a big problem in the country. Based on this issue, seen on the local and national level, institutions have joined forces in order to start the project addressing the gender equality in Egyptian higher education.

Lessons learnt

At the universities in Upper Egypt, women are under-represented on all levels of university staff. Most universities lack programs to balance academic career and family duties and to facilitate the integration of female graduates in the labour market. The involvement of four different Egyptian universities enables the establishment of a not only transnational but also inner-Egyptian dialogue on equal opportunities and gender justice.

This is of course an issue of the society and there is a huge need for such project. Aims go in line with the institutional strategies of all the partners, while at the same time fighting with the institutional culture.

Project received from the beginning a strong support of the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education, which was seen as crucial for project’s successful implementation. Such support has included both a smooth running of the project, ability of receiving necessary data, and opportunity to engage a large scale of stakeholders, which in the future could result in multiplying the outcomes and activities on other higher education institutions across Egypt.

As the project is funded by DAAD, a clear support by the German system is visible and ensures both financial support and expertise in this field.

In June 2012 the Egyptian project teams started to establish Equal Opportunity Centres at their universities. The centers mainly aim at supporting all university members in achieving work-life balance and in career development. This includes counseling of young researchers and graduates, offering soft skills courses, and promoting a family friendly environment at the university.

These centres are the tool that will ensure the continuation of the project, after the official project cycle finishes, together with the funding resources.

Currently, we can say that the awareness raising is being very successful and the project is able to involve many people in its activities.

Among many activities, there were workshops organised: Berlin 2012, Cairo 2012, Summer school in Berlin in 2013, Girls’ day at SVU in 2013.

Girls’ day at South Valley University in December aimed at encouraging school girls to decide in favour of a qualified degree in fields that are presently not typically female, as for example engineering or physics. The statistical proofs of the success of rate of the project will only be visible in the next years.

Additional information

Website:

http://www.fu-berlin.de/en/sites/gender_egypt/

Press release, 2012:

http://www.fu-berlin.de/en/presse/informationen/fup/2012/fup_12_093/index.html

Contact details

Freie Universität, Berin, Germany

Prof. Dr. Brigitta Schütt, vp4[at]fu-berlin.de

Prof. Dr. Margreth Lünenborg, margreth.luenenborg[at]fu-berlin.de

First collected by

IDEAS project (Identifying Effective Approaches to Enhancing the Social Dimension) 2013-2015

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