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The First International Day of the Girl Child: “Towards a Safer Environment for Egyptian Girls”

UNICEF Representative in Egypt, Mr.Philippe Duamelle, during his speech

Cairo-Egypt, 10 October 2012- Egypt celebrated, today, the first International Day of the Girl Child and joined the rest of the world in marking this day designated by the United Nations General Assembly.

In a round table discussion entitled “Towards a Safer Environment for Egyptian Girls,” experts highlighted inequities and challenges that affect the rights, development, and empowerment of Egyptian girls.

The event was held under the umbrella of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

“We renew our commitment to the enforcement of young women’s rights, today we shed light on the challenges girls face, especially at this critical period that Egypt is going through,” said Dr. Nasr Al Sayed, Secretary General of the NCCM.

Dr. Al Sayed added that, “we need to endorse all the principles of equal opportunities and non-discrimination. We also endorse girls’ right to quality education, access to information and knowledge in all areas related to her physical and mental health, and emphasize her right to protection from harmful practices such as early marriage.”

The 11th of October has been designated by the UN as a day to promote the rights of girls and to address the unique challenges they face in their life.

UNICEF Representative in Egypt, Mr. Philippe Duamelle, highlighted that girls face daily multiple challenges negatively affecting their rights to education, health and freedom from violence, harassment and early marriages.

He added that, “such challenges affecting the life and future of girls must be addressed so that girls can enjoy their rights and develop to their full potential, prepare for a better life for themselves their families and be able to actively participate in the development of their communities and their country.”

UNICEF Egypt GoodWill Ambassador, Actor, Mr.Khaled Abol Naga, during his speech

In Egypt, adolescent girls aged 15-17 are exposed to marriage responsibility early in life as 2.3 percent of adolescent girls are married and 12 percent are on their way to be married. Child marriages put the girl’s life at risk especially in developing countries where pregnancy-related complications are the main cause for death for adolescent girls.

Girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage has been shown to virtually end a girl’s education. Globally, girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children, making education one of the best strategies for protecting girls and combating child marriage.
 “Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of violence and abuse, and jeopardizes her health. Empowering girls and safeguarding their rights is our call today,”  said Dr. Maya Morsy  Country Coordinator , UN women Egypt.
In addition, preventing child marriage secure the girl’s life since it reduces her chances to be subject to violence, early pregnancy, HIV as well as maternal death and disability.
“Early marriage can have a devastating impact on girls’ lives-they are more likely to be forced out of school, live in poverty, have early pregnancies and endure health complications or die during childbirth,” said Ms. Mona Moustafa, UNFPA Egypt Programme officer.
Dr.Azza El Ashmawy, General Director of the NCCM, said that the “NCCM is working diligently with girls who are victims of summer and transactional marriages to ensure their rights to be rehabilitated and reintegrated in the society" as victims not criminals”. She added that “brokers in some governorates are facilitating this crime in collaboration with victims’ parents, which is an unbelievable fact.”

The roundtable discussion brought together different guest speakers to discuss the various aspects of the girl child rights including Actor Khaled Abol Naga, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and actress Basma.

For more information; please contact

Fatma Elzahraa Yassin, Communications Associate, UN Women Egypt Country Office at

Marion Schaefer, Communication and Advocacy Officer, UNFPA Egypt Country Office at

Hala Abu Khatwa, Head of Communication Section, UNICEF Egypt ,Country Office at




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