With many obstacles facing women's financial inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa region, addressing them is a key priority for the Egyptian government. In recent years Egypt's financial sector has taken steps to promote gender equality and women's economic empowerment in the country.

CIB is playing a leading role in advancing the economic wellbeing of women across Egypt.

Financial inclusion is a key factor in improving gender equality. In Egypt, only 27% of women have a bank account compared to 39% of men, a disparity that has been steadily increasing in recent years and is considerably higher than other comparable developing countries.

CIB has long recognised the important role that tailored financial products and services play in empowering women economically. Providing advisory services and capacity building opportunities to enable women to make informed financial and investment decisions increases the resilience of their businesses, reduces their exposure to economic shocks, and increases their incomes.

In 2020, the bank’s lending to female-owned businesses increased more than 900% year-on-year and the customer base grew by more than 150% over the same period.

Equal labor force participation is another important factor in improving positive outcomes for a range of socio-economic indicators, including those related to economic growth, quality of life, health, and education.

Working solution

CIB is committed to providing a safe work environment for all employees, free from discrimination on any grounds and from any form of workplace harassment.

Women need to be empowered to progress in certain job functions and leadership roles through tailored leadership programmes and training tracks to enhance their management skills. To this end, CIB has developed dedicated programmes to increase the number of women hired and raise awareness of gender equality.

The Women in Leadership programme was developed to provide female employees with a specialized development track to equip them with the skills and experience to achieve long-term career success and become leaders of organisational change. CIB is also pursuing its Women in Tech initiative, introduced two years ago to address the gender gap in its technology departments.


CIB co-chairs Egypt’s Closing Gender Gap Accelerator, a public-private collaboration model which enables government and businesses to take action towards closing economic gender gaps. CIB at least matches international benchmarks in terms of women’s higher management and board representation with 25% at board level and 33% at executive management level. It was the first Egyptian bank to sign the CEO Statement of Support for the UN Women's Empowerment Principles, which are based on real-life business practice and highlight gender within corporate sustainability efforts.


Driving diversity

The bank has played (and continues to play) an influential role in in Egypt’s banking and finance sector, spearheading new approaches and best practices including expanding its adoption of gender inclusion and diversity measures and commitments.

CIB’s pursuit of gender equality has earned the bank the Gender Equity Seal from the National Council of Women and the World Bank. Undergoing the certification process has provided CIB with critical insights on issues that were impacting not only gender equity performance, but could also improve processes, procedures and the performance of the bank as an institution. For example, identifying and addressing issues that have an impact on recruitment or staff retention reduce expenses and improve operations, while introducing measures to improve work-life balance for both male and female employees boosts morale, loyalty and performance.

CIB prides itself on its long commitment to gender equality and will run an action plan aimed at preparing women for the post-Covid world of work, further closing gender gaps in remuneration between and within sectors, enabling wider participation in the labour force, and advancing more women into management and leadership roles.


Challenging stereotypes

One of the challenges facing women in the banking industry is that the industry is perceived as a male dominated sector that cannot be managed by women. However, women’s participation – especially at board and executive level – is associated with greater financial resilience and stability.

Another issue to be addressed is unconscious bias which attributes certain attitudes and stereotypes towards women, while the lack of flexible work arrangements in the workplace is a further challenge for the post-pandemic environment.

Various steps are being taken to address these challenges, especially when it comes to improving access to education for women and girls. Once again, CIB is playing a leading role in the Egyptian banking sector through its early adoption, advocacy, and championing of the cause of gender equality.


The bank is enforcing anti-discrimination policies, introducing flexible work arrangements in the workplace, and conducting women empowerment initiatives to attract young female talent and facilitate women entering the banking industry.

CIB is committed to providing a safe work environment for all employees, free from discrimination on any grounds and from any form of workplace harassment. The bank also makes sure that it is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing equal employment opportunities for training, compensation, transfer, promotion and other aspects of employment for all qualified applicants and employees without regard to gender, race, colour, religion, age, or physical disability.


Training programme

To improve access to education for women, CIB launched the 'Helmik Yehmena' (Your Dream Matters) initiative to support women to join the workforce in certain geographical areas where they are underrepresented. The initiative helps women through the use of short training programmes that began in South Valley University in Qena.

To date it has reached more than 200 women in Upper Egypt and Port Said and CIB hopes to expand the programme across Egypt.

CIB has also become an industry leader in the area of data analytics, recognizing that tailored digital financial services based on behavioral data and delivered through a robust agent banking network are key to the uptake and inclusion of financial services by women.

Best practices such as unbiased machine language algorithms (which incorporate female data scientists in developing the algorithms) and having female agent bank representatives promote and create awareness of financial services as key enablers for active engagement and inclusion.

CIB has explored some of these best practices by recruiting a woman as its head of data science and employing multiple female data scientists on the team to develop the associated algorithms. It is in the process of actively engaging with third party agents that have female representation to ensure cultural barriers are addressed when onboarding and creating awareness to underserved women.

Source: Euro Money

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