Egypt Calls for Girls Rights

Date: Thursday, October 11, 2018

Blerta Aliko, UN Women Country Representative handing over a certificate to Omneya who took over her place for the day
Blerta Aliko, UN Women Egypt Country Representative handing over a certificate for Omneya who took over her place for the day. Photo Credit UNWomen\Nouran Makhlouf

Cairo, 11 October 2018- This week, 68 Egyptian girls “took over” for one day the positions of 40 high-level officials in Egypt, including the Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity, Security General of the National Council of Childhood and Motherhood, senior leaders from the Egyptian government, ambassadors from 19 embassies in Egypt, heads of UN agencies, and civil society leaders.

“Today I felt empowered and heard. I have been working with other girls and boys in my community on addressing issues like harassment and early marriage, but today is the first time I share our ideas with this large group of high level officials. I am no different than other girls in Egypt. They should step up, express themselves, and voice their opinion” Amal Nageh, 16 years old, from El-Marg district, Cairo.

The #GirlsTakeOver initiative in Egypt is part of a series of celebrations to mark the International Day of the Girl (October 11), facilitated by Plan International Egypt, starting in late September and culminating in a “Girls’ Summit” today.

“The various celebrations organized by Plan International aim to shed light on the challenges that girls face, to celebrate the efforts underway to address these challenges, and to enhance girls’ rights. I was delighted to see the insight and bright capabilities that girls showed during the “takeovers” and panel discussions in the Girls’ Summit. We are also hopeful that the commitment from this large number of leaders and diplomatic missions in Egypt materializes into concrete actions that will improve opportunities and address the challenges that girls face”, said Mr. Mudasser Siddiqui, Plan International Egypt’s Country Director.

“Girls are able to become leaders and well educated citizens in their future, and the representation of women in the Egyptian Cabinet is a clear example of that. The Ministry of Social Solidarity has been continuously working, in line with Egypt’s Vision 2030, on making sure that Egypt is free of harassment, early marriage, FGM and other harmful practices towards girls. The recent regulations that have been passed on this regard are a clear indication of the Egypt’s determination toward ending these practices, and our celebration of the International Day of the Girl today is a strong step towards this. We will continue working with our partners like Plan International, in the UN and local NGOs to ensure that these regulations are enforced on the ground”, said Dr. Ghada Wali, the Minister of Social Solidarity.

Speaking on behalf of participating foreign missions in Egypt, Canadian Ambassador Jess Dutton said, “Today, on the International Day of the Girl, we are proud to host bright Egyptian girls who “took over” our jobs to help empower girls and highlight their capabilities. This “takeover” is an attempt to draw international attention to girls’ rights around the world and here in Egypt. We believe that all of us have a responsibility to work together to break down the barriers that girls face, and to help make their voices heard.”

Egypt Girls’ Summit is organized by Plan International Egypt under the patronage of H.E. the Minister of Social Solidarity. It was held this afternoon with the participation of officials who offered takeover opportunities and in the presence of girls from local communities, Plan staff, and decision makers in areas related to girls’ safety, leadership and health. The Girls’ Summit ends the celebrations on a high note, as an empowering experience for girls, who led the panel discussions, came with recommendations about issues girls face in their communities, and experienced advocacy on a high level.

“The issues of girls are all connected in our community. When she’s a child, she gets circumcised to be “chaste”, and then they get her married off early. Next thing is that she drops out of school. I am enthusiastic to see all these leaders supporting our community work on this regards, and raising awareness of fathers and mothers on these hurtful social practices”, said Sohayla, 17 years old, Cairo, Egypt.

Preceding the takeovers, a number of community events took place in 8 Egyptian governorates, including Alexandria, Assiut, Beheira, Cairo, Giza, Qalyoubya, Qena, and Sohag. These local activities included simulated village councils, social dialogues, and awareness days on girls’ safety, leadership and health.

This October across the world, girls stepped into the shoes of Ambassadors, Mayors, heads of educational institutions, and business leaders to show that girls can be leaders and decision makers and have their voice heard on the challenges they face. About 1500 “takeovers” were facilitated by Plan International globally. IDG Summits are also being held this October in Brussels, Madrid and several other cities around the world.

In Egypt, a total of 22 embassies and UN organizations participated in the “takeover”. The embassies of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, , Denmark, European Union, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America; as well as UNICEF, UN Women, and WFP each hosted a girl for the day.

The events in Egypt were facilitated this year by Plan International Egypt, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the Embassy of Canada in Egypt

About the International Day of the Girl

In 2012, the first International Day of the Girl was launched following global advocacy by girls themselves to establish the day formally, through a United Nations Resolution, with support from the Canadian delegation and Plan International, to raise awareness about the particular challenges that girls face and to take action. The movement was joined by many countries in a concerted action to show support for girls on the 11th of October each year. The original rationale for an official day focused on making the invisible lives of girls - both their plight and their power - truly visible, and to inspire commitments and action to promote girls’ rights. Growing each year since 2012, the International Day of the Girl (IDG) is now a foundation for advocacy and gender-oriented activism for many individuals, organizations, networks and governments.