International day of the Girl

October 12th, 2020 by Editor

Due to various reasons, girls all over the world face a number of problems that negatively contribute to limiting their rights and freedoms, including false cultural heritages that give preference to males over females, and external factors that prevent females from accessing their basic rights, such as the right to Education, health, work, etc. In addition to some societal misconceptions that limit their freedoms and rights.

From this standpoint, the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl every year on 11th of October, to shed light on the problems facing girls worldwide  and to raise awareness about them. The celebration of the day dates back to December 19, 2011, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted its resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 of each year the International Day of the Girl, In order  to shed the lights on the unique challenges that girls face in everyday life[1].

The importance of International Girls’ Day lies in its contribution to raising awareness of the inequality that girls are exposed to worldwide due to their gender. It also contributes to raising awareness of a number of issues such gender equality, underage marriage, the right to education and health care, and awareness on sexual violence issues. In addition, International Girls’ Day raises awareness about their economic, social and political rights. The day also sheds light on success stories of girls in many fields by publishing stories that contribute to spreading hope among girls and encouraging them to work and cherish themselves.

 Every year, the International Day of the Girl includes a different theme. In the first year the topic was about “eliminating child marriage,” the second year was about “innovation for girls’ education, ”and the third was about“ empowering teenage girls to end the cycle of violence ”and the year after was on “teenage girl power,” and for this year, International Girls ’Day will focus on their demands for[2]:

  • Living in an environment free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, HIV and AIDS
  • Acquiring  new skills towards the future of their choice
  • Leading a generation of activists to accelerate social change

Girls in Egypt face a number of problems that directly threaten their rights and freedom and reinforce the gender inequality gap, the most important of which are: issues of physical violence such as sexual harassment, and female genital mutilation, and the issue of child marriage. In this report, we shed light on the most important data and statistics regarding these issues in Egypt.

“Nada, a 14-year-old girl living in Assiut governorate, was forced by her father to undergo a female gential mutilation surgery in the clinic of a gynecologist, which resulted in her death after suffering from a nervous shock while undergoing the surgery[3]

This was one of the most important stories that recently occupied public opinion in Egypt, which shocked the Egyptian society and forced them to reconsider the extent of the spread of the phenomenon of female gential mutilation. According to a study conducted by the United Nations’ UNICEF, statistical data shows that Egypt is among the top five Arab countries in practice this habit. 87% of girls aged 15-49 have been subjected to FGM in Egypt, with 93% of cases happening in rural areas and 77% in urban settings. Statistics also indicate that this practice is spread in the governorates of Upper Egypt by a percentages that reaches 90%, and this percentage decreases in the governorates of Lower Egypt and the coastal governorates to reach 15%, indicating that Qalyubia governorate is the highest in the governorates of Lower Egypt by 68%, and in Cairo the percentage reaches to 35%[4].

UNICEF attributed this phenomena to the social and culture heritage in Egypt that link female genital mutilation to concepts like, purity and preparation for marriage, noting that there are differents in the rate of the phenomena over the years, the total prevalence of females that suffered from gential mutilation in Egypt in the year of  2000 reached 97%,  recording a decrease in 2015 to 92%, then it reached 87% in 2016. The prevalence of this practice increased to 91% in 2017, despite the policies that were adopted by the Egyptian government since 2008 of punitive legislation for both doctors and parents who perform female genital mutilation on their girls[5].

Despite the efforts made by the state to limit this phenomenon, there is still a need for more efforts and cooperation between the state and civil society institutions to curb and end this practice in the Egyptain society. For our part, The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights has launched campaigns to combat this phenomena in many Egyptian governorates. The campaigns aimed at raising awareness of girl’s rights and health, and the psychological and physical consequences of gential mutilation on girls. We are still working hard to raise awareness of girls’ rights and work to consolidate human rights principles.

In addition to the practice of female gential mutilation, we find that the phenomenon of sexual violence aganist girls has occupied public opinion in recent time, especially after reporting lots of cases by girls. According to the report of the Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics, the “results of the survey of the economic cost of social violence against women in Egypt 2015”, it was found that 34% of women who had previously been married had been subjected to physical or sexual violence from their husbands, and it was also mentioned that about 7% of Egyptian women had been subjected to harassment in public transportations, in addition to about 10% Of them had been harassed in the street, during the 12 months preceding the survey[6].

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights issued a report on the issue of sexual harassment in Egypt, the statement included the  laws and policies that were issued recently to reduce sexual harassment in Egypt, in addation to a discussion on the recent sexual harassment cases in Egypt, the organization also launched a campaign that aimed at raising awareness of the issues of physical violence for women in Egypt.

One of the most important issues faced by girls in Egypt is the issue of child marriage. According to the official statistics of the Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics, about 117,000 marriages under the age of 18 take place annually without any official papers, which constitute about 40% of the total number of marriages in Egypt. This practice causes many health and psychological problems in addition to losing all civil rights for the wife[7].

Child marriage is rooted in cultural heritage, as many families rush to marry their daughters because they look to marriage as a form of protection for them in society, without taking into account the negative side effects resulting from marriage at a young age. Usually, child marriage in Egypt takes place in two ways, the first in which there is no documentation, and the contract is done orally in front of the couple’s family, or by forging official documents for girls to prove that she has reached the legal age for marriage.

Child marriage reuslts in losing all civil rights that official marriage would grantee, as it negates the rights of the girl and her future children, because there are no official documents to document the marriage process. Thus if any divorce took place, there will be no rights for the wife nor the children. Also marriage at such a young age increases the rates of divorce due to insufficient awareness of the responsibilities and duties. Furthermore, child marriage results in severe psychological and health damage to girls at this age.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights calls on all parties to take advantage of the opportunity of the world’s celebration of the International Day of the Girl to work to consolidate the principle of gender equality and raise awareness of the problems facing girls in Egypt, and to work to create an environment that respects human rights.

[1] United nation, International Day of the Girl Child, available at:

[2] United nation, International Day of the Girl Child, available at:

[3] “بعد وفاة طفلة في مصر متأثرة به.. ما هو الختان وما حجم الظاهرة”, سي ان ان عربية

[4]  ختان الإناث… ينتشر بنسبة 91% في مصر


[6] مسح التكلفة الإقتصادية للعنف القائم على النوع الإجتماعي مصر, صندوق الامم المتحدة للسكان, 2015.

[7] ألف حالة زواج اطفال في مصر: كيف حدث ذلك.

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