UNITED NATIONS. FAYZA ABOULNAGA -- FIRST FEMALE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO EGYPT'S PRESIDENT

 

15 NOVEMBER 2014

FAYZA ABOULNAGA -- FIRST FEMALE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO EGYPT'S PRESIDENT

Welcome news from Cairo. The President of Egypt has appointed our former UN colleague, Fayza Aboulnaga, who worked as Special Assistant to Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as Senior National Security Advisor, the first female to take that post in the Arab world.

Ms. Aboulnaga left the UN with her former chief and after a period with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs she was appointed Minister for International Economic Cooperation. Working quietly, discreetly and effectively, she made her way through Egyptian politics to be recognized as one of the most effective, straight-talking, coherent and pleasant members of the cabinet. She faced controversy with courage, expressed her views clearly and to the point, and earned the respect of male and female colleagues. There was one controversy about American NGOs operating in Cairo at the time of transition , which she faced openly with dignity. After the revolution she was an Advisor to the Government. Born in Port Said on the Suez Canal, she ran for Parliament during the elections and represented her region in Egypt's National Assembly.

During her UN work, Ms. Aboulnaga was helpful both to the Secretary-General briefing him frankly on Secretariat issues and opening a dialogue with Secretariat staff. While maintaining her loyalty to Dr. Boutros-Ghali, she also was clear that his interest lay in earning the affection and loyalty of the staff. Her new designation as National Security Advisor was welcome by most of the Egyptian establishment, although some felt that the appointment of a woman like her was too early in the rhetorical sense that "Where are the men of Egypt? Why do you have to go to a woman to protect the national security of the country?" The simple answer was obviously that "the best man" for that post at this time happened to be a woman. Egypt has always had a number of capable, outstanding women who made their mark in politics, in civil society and throughout the Arab world. Some of them were represented in UN senior posts and some were active on the international scene. Ms. Aboulnaga was one of them. Her appointment was a tribute to Egyptian women and in a way a recognition of the UN's positive impact on her career. We wish her all the best.