Egypt: Eliminating female genital mutilation
"I am the happiest girl in the world; my mother and father will not circumcise me" - a young girl from Kalioubia and participant in the Reduction of Female Genital Mutilation project.
Despite Egypt’s banning of female circumcision – also referred to as female genital mutilation (FGM) – in the 1990s, the practice is still widespread, and in rural areas such as Kalioubia or Giza, is almost universal among girls aged 7 to 12.
Most girls are not consulted, nor do they consent to the practice. FGM is one of the most blatant denials of girls’ human rights. The practice also compromises girls’ health and social development.
Abolishing the practice has proven extremely difficult since it is maintained through long-held customs that are deeply rooted in communities and family life.
The Reduction of Female Genital Mutilation project, which started in 2006, is sponsored by Plan Egypt in collaboration with government and civil society at national, regional and local levels (including the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), local departments of the Ministry of Social Solidarity, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health, and 10 community development associations).
A human rights based approach underpins the strategy ultimately to reduce and eliminate FGM by tackling harmful attitudes and beliefs in communities through the creation of local coordination and gender committees.
Work with and through these entities has increased the understanding of parents, community leaders, and members of community development organisations of the harmful psychological and physical impacts on girls and the role they can play in the fight for its elimination.
Capacity has been built locally to deliver advocacy and awareness activities for parents and others who play a key role in maintaining the practice. Children themselves have been sensitised on the harmfulness of FGM and informed of their human rights.
More than 7,000 girls and women have so far been supported through capacity building and service delivery.
An extra year of secondary school can increase a girl’s potential income by 15 to 25%.