25 January 2023

Protecting and Fulfilling the Rights of Children In Egypt

Five years of economic growth and stability, combined with substantive progress in improving thehealth of mothers and children, are accomplishments Egypt can take pride in. But the same period has witnessed an increase in poverty rates, with severe consequences for women and children. Despite Government programmes to promote basic services and expand access to social protection schemes for the most vulnerable households, nearly 30 per cent of Egyptians live in monetary poverty. In parts of Upper Egypt the figure is much higher. By 2030, Egypt’s fast-growing population will reach nearly 120 million. Around 40 per cent are children under the age of 18; 27.6 million are adolescents and youth, potentially offering a large demographic dividend for the country. Much work is needed to address inequities. Health systems need strengthening, together with integrated multisectoral programmes. Children and adolescents, especially those from poorer backgrounds, are threatened by a ‘triple burden’ of malnutrition – a combination of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight. While progress has been made, greater efforts are essential to reinforce national strategies to address all forms of malnutrition, micronutrient deficiency and obesity in children. More girls are now in primary school, but boys and girls from poorer backgrounds are less likely to complete primary education. Less than one quarter of all children are enrolled in public pre-primary schools. At least 1 million school-age children with disabilities are out of school, as are many refugee and migrant children. Far too many children continue to be victims of violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM). Many young Egyptians find the transition from learning to employment challenging due to the mismatch between the skills they have learned in school and those required by employers. Girls and young women are disproportionately affected, with an unemployment rate three times higher than that of their male counterparts. Adolescents with disabilities face stigma and discrimination. Egypt’s dependence on the Nile for its water needs means that climate change is a growing threat to children’s health and wellbeing, especially those in poorer communities. UNICEF is taking an integrated approach to address climate change by protecting children and their communities from the impacts of climate change, building resilience and providing climate-smart services. UNICEF is committed to working with the Government of Egypt and with a broad network of partners across sectors to ensure the survival and positive development of every boy and girl in Egypt. To meet these challenges, nothing less than a transformational and systemic change is required. UNICEF focuses on systemic changes that are critical to addressing the underlying causes of children’s mortality, poverty, vulnerability, gender inequality and exclusion in all settings.