Foreign Policy Magazine Panel at the COP27:
Rawya Mansour Addresses Gender Gaps Via her Climate Action Ventures
Cairo, 8 November 2022
• Former US Secretary of State for Agriculture: Despite representing a majority of agriculture workers around the world, women are still more vulnerable to violence
Cairo, 8 November 2022
In a session entitled “Addressing Food Security Through a Gender-Sensitive Lens”, Foreign Policy Magazine and APCO Worldwide brought various international innovation leaders into one virtual room within their COP27 panel’s stage. Speaking first at the session, Mrs. Rawya Mansour, Egyptian Entrepreneur and Chairperson of Ramsco Egypt and Oasis Technology Monaco, addressed the panel and attendees elaborating on her company’s innovations in the field of organic farming and particularly the use and production of Bio Char. Other panelists presenting their unique views on the topic were Former US Secretary of State for Agriculture Dan Glickman, Bram Govearts, Director General of CIMMYT, Esther Mwaura-Muiru, Global Advocacy Director – Stand for Her Land, and Bianca Dager Jervis, Co-Founder, Premios Vedres. The session was moderated by Judit Arenas, Executive Director, and Gender Practice Lead, of APCO Worldwide.
As Rawya goes on to explain, biochar has been named “green coal” for its ability to redirect carbon back into the soil, enhancing its performance and decreasing the water consumption entailed in the farming process by 30 to 60%. The organic chemical material was originally found in Brazil, and although not invented by Rawya and her venture, Rawya obtained a patent for a machine enabling the production of the invaluable material locally for use in the purposes of reclaiming otherwise infertile deserts.
Through long years of dedicated research, Rawya has now obtained two patents for her machine as well as a soil enhancer in numerous countries, which makes it possible for her crops to be exported in Europe and across the world. In addition to providing foreign currency through exports, these innovations were vital during the Covid-19 restrictions on imports and the following rise in prices which reached $270,000 per ton of fertilizers, according to Mrs. Mansour.
As a favorable side impact of her work, Rawya has been able to empower the women in her small agricultural community of 30 crops and 13 acres. One woman, she goes on to tell, is a divorcee with 3 kids at only 24 years of age, who previously had to split her wage with the farming agent who provides female labor for the fields. In a widely conservative society, the agent’s role had been unfairly central, but under a new system that Rawya introduced, these women are paid equal wages that they do not have to split with anyone and are employed directly by her association.
The ways in which climate action, food security, and the gender gap interact are countless, affirms Rawya and other panelists on APCO’s stage. And although she believes that “food security is a central part of the discussion of the climate challenge, it is not properly addressed in climate podiums, and not given the commensurate priority it should be given,” says Rawya.
Former US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman reiterated Rawya’s words, clarifying that the majority of agricultural workers around the world are women, who despite this fact, face disproportionate wages and vulnerability to violence in many regions. Bram Govearts, Director General of CIMMYT, said that his company’s work in biodiversity helps prevent the food security and emigration threats which Rawya referred to briefly in her speech. By introducing wheat varieties and man-driven innovations that could prevent potential conflict and enhance human nutrition, the company’s bio-innovations become all the more relevant in a world facing the potential impacts of climate change.
From land ownership to a mother’s decision-making when it comes to her children’s food, the panelists gave an eye-opening vision of women and their two-way impact on climate challenges. Featuring innovators and thought leaders from around the world, the panel was part of efforts to magnify the discussion and networking capacities under the umbrella of COP27, as participants flocked to the widely anticipated summit from across the globe.