This week, to coincide with the International Day for Eliminating Violence Against Women, the National Council for Women (NCW) is joining in a 16-day campaign to combat Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
As part of the campaign a flotilla of boats took to the Nile on 22 November. To raise awareness of the problem of violence against women each boat had a slogan emblazoned on its sail. Some of the messages encouraged communities to ensure girls are educated because education goes hand in hand with social protection. Others stressed that FGM is a crime punishable by law.
On 25 November NCW head Maya Morsi presented the council’s strategy for combating all forms of domestic violence against women, with a special emphasis on ending FGM which is one of Egypt’s 2030 Vision’s goals.
The strategy aims to integrate multiple initiatives opposing discrimination and promoting social justice, equal opportunity and gender equality by fostering greater cooperation between the government and civil society.
“We aim to pave the way towards the gradual removal of all obstacles that restrict women’s full participation in public life,” said Morsi.
The strategy encompasses prevention, protection, intervention and, where necessary, recourse to the law.
As part of its long-term campaign against FGM the NCW has, since it was first formed in 2000, liaised with a wide-range of institutions including the EU, UN, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church.
It has also worked alongside other civil society organisations, setting up the National Committee for the Eradication of FGM in collaboration with the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM). Such cooperation, says Morsi, has spearheaded a movement against FGM which has led to a significant reduction in the practice. Incidents of female circumcision among girls aged up to 17 years old dropped from 28 per cent in 2005 to 18 per cent in 2014.
The NCW is now focusing on combating FGM as part of a more general campaign against GBV, and within the framework of Egypt’s 2030 Vision which includes empowering women.
The 16-day campaign will see the NCW organise events in several governorates to increase awareness of the psychological and physical harm caused by FGM, and by domestic and community violence against women.
The 16 Days of Activism against GBV initiative was initiated by activists at the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. The latest campaign kicked off on 25 November and lasts until 10 December.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 November, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.