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Gender Equality in the Egyptian Higher Education System

Workshop in Cairo, December 2012
Workshop in Cairo, December 2012 Image Credit: Dr. Florian Kohstall

Since April 2012, the Liaison Office of Freie Universität Berlin in Cairo is involved in the DAAD funded project “Gender Equality in the Egyptian Higher Education System”. The project 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 Cairo, Alexandria, Sohag and South Valley University.

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 first project year served to exchange best practice examples and information on the situation regarding equal opportunity issues at the participating universities as well as to discuss objectives and measures of the project. In several meetings, the Egyptian project partners identified the promotion of a family-friendly environment at Egyptian universities and the enhancement of career opportunities for female university graduates and scientists as central topics.

As a milestone of the project, the Egyptian partners decided to establish offices concerned with the promotion of equal opportunities and a family friendly environment at the Egyptian universities. These "Equal Opportunity Centers" are currently being set up at the partner universities. The family support center of Freie Universität Berlin and the central and departmental gender equality officers can serve as a model for the realization of the centers.

With its successful equality policies, Freie Universität Berlin is ranked at the forefront among all German universities. The university has earned the Total E-Quality Science Award (TEQ) for the fourth time in a row for its exemplary higher education and personnel policies, which embrace the principles of equal opportunity. In a nationwide ranking regarding equality at higher education institutions (CEWS), the university is once again ranked near the top. In 2007 and 2011, Freie Universität underwent audits for certification and recertification as a family-friendly higher education institution.

The project is funded with more than 225.000 Euro within the framework of the DAAD program "Cooperation with the Transition Countries Egypt and Tunisia". It is headed by Prof. Dr. Brigitta Schütt, Vice President of Freie Universität Berlin, and Prof. Dr. Margreth Lünenborg, Program Director of the Center for the Promotion of Women’s and Gender Studies.

For further information visit the project homepage.

Your contact partner at Freie Universität:

Dr. Barbara Sandow, Project Coordinator at Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838 51080, Email: barbara.sandow(at)