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UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Ib Petersen concludes first official visit to Egypt

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Population Fund Deputy Executive Director, Management, Ambassador Ib Petersen conducted a visit to Egypt on June 13-17, to understand the population program in Egypt and discuss how UNFPA can further support the Government of Egypt to achieve its 2030 agenda.

Ambassador Ib Petersen met with Minister of Health and Population Dr. Hala Zayed.

Ambassador Petersen held meetings with the Minister of Health and Population Dr. Hala Zayed, Minister of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Hala El-Said, Minister of Social Solidarity Dr. Nevine El-Kabbage, Minister of International Cooperation Ms. Rania Al-Mashat and Minister of Youth and Sports Dr. Ashraf Sobhy. 

He also met the President of the National Council for Women Dr. Maya Morsy, as he participated in a meeting with the National Committee for the Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), headed by the National Council for Women and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, in light of the UNFPA’s joint efforts with the Government of Egypt to eradicate FGM and child marriage. Ambassador Petersen also paid a visit to the anti-violence against women coordination unit established by UNFPA in the National Council for Women.

Ambassador Petersen also commended Cairo University’s pioneering efforts and partnership with UNFPA to combat violence against women, during a visit to the Qasr al-Ainy medical response unit. 

“Cairo University is far ahead in achievements in the medical sector and in leadership,” Ambassador Petersen said, “We are very excited about this cooperation. It speaks to the heart of our mandate.”

On his part, Dr. Mohamed El-Khosht, the President of Cairo University said they are committed to combatting all forms of discrimination and violence against women.

Qasr Al-Ainy medical response clinic is one of 4 clinics inaugurated in cooperation with the National Council for Women to provide support to survivors of violence against women.

A reception was also held in his honor as well as to announce actress Amina Khalil as UNFPA Egypt Honorary Ambassador. The event brought together Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, General Ismail El Far, Director of the Central Administration for Training and Projects, on behalf of Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, the Minister of Youth and Sports, President of the National Council for Women Dr. Maya Morsy, along with several ambassadors and eminent leaders from civil society, private sector and the media.

Ambassador Ib Petersen's meeting with Minister of Social Solidarity Dr. Nevine El Kabbage.

Another highlight of Ambassador Petersen’s program was a conversation with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria, and Patriarch of the See of St Mark and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb. 

Working with faith-based organizations is essential for UNFPA since religious leaders and community leaders play important roles in people’s lives and wellbeing. 

Ambassador Petersen’s visit came at an opportune moment as the Government of Egypt embarks on an ambitious newly-endorsed accelerated National Project for Family Development, led by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. Petersen discussed the program with different ministers, since it is a multi-sector program, with women empowerment at its heart. 

He discussed ways UNFPA can best support Egypt in implementing this action plan and was interested in seeing special attention given to young people and adolescent girls in other programs like the presidential initiative Hayah Karima among others. 

Ambassador Ib Petersen also met with the Minister of Youth and Sports Dr. Ashraf Sobhy.

“All the ministers I’ve met are extremely committed to the government’s priorities when it comes to population and gender equality,” Ambassador Petersen said, “we have a lot of opportunity to use that space now.”

Ambassador Ib Petersen also paid a visit a community center operated by CARE International, a longtime partner of UNFPA in the fight against harmful practices, where he attended different activities organized by YPEER, UNFPA’s youth leadership network.

During a meeting with Minister of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Hala El Said.

“It always a highlight to meet young people on the ground, who showed us how they are working with communities,” he said, “It is great to see people who are young and engaged.”

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Ambassador Petersen of Denmark as

Assistant Secretary-General to serve as the Deputy Executive Director, Management of UNFPA in June 2020.

Ambassador Petersen recently served as Director for the Department of Migration, Conflict and Stabilization of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has over 30 years of experience within the spheres of bilateral and multilateral affairs and development. 

Prior to his position as Department Director, Ambassador Petersen served as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations from 2013-2019, during which he held several important duties. 

Currently in its 10th program cycle (2018-2022), UNFPA’s programs of intervention are aligned with national development priorities outlined in the National Action Plan on Egyptian Family Development, as well as Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the National Population Strategy. 

Ambassador Ib Petersen attended a National Committee for the Eradication of FGM meeting headed by Dr. Maya Morsy.

Interventions aim at enhancing reproductive health and family planning services, raising awareness through innovative methods with communities and young people, as well as addressing social norms around family size and violence against women and girls.