Ministry of Social Solidarity, the EU, the UK and UNDP advocate for ending child marriage

Posted July 5, 2022
Photo: UNDP Egypt

Cairo, Monday- Today, the Minister of Social Solidarity, Dr. Nivine El-Kabbag, the Head of Human and Social Development Section at the EU Delegation to Egypt Mr. Marco Migliorelli, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Deputy Resident Representative in Egypt, Sylvain Merlen, and the Chargé d’affaires at the British Embassy, Qudsi Rasheed, marked the first milestone of the “Combatting Child Marriage” campaign under the ‘Strengthening Institutional and Human Resources Capacities of Ministry of Social Solidarity’ project.

In Egypt, nearly one in twenty girls between 15 and 17 years old are married (according to the latest population census of 2017). With significant differences between rural and urban areas, the rate for girls aged 15 to 19 rises to one in ten.

Even though the number of child marriages has decreased globally to roughly one in every five girls getting married today—the practice remains widespread.

The campaign for Combating Child Marriage, marked today, complements and supports the Ministry’s ongoing strategy to ensure that beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme will lose their benefits if they marry their children before the age of 18.

The two-month campaign was launched online and among communities through the “Waai Programme for Community Development”. The campaign raises awareness among target families about the negative effects of child marriage as well as the various rights of children, especially girls, that are inevitably interlinked. It also highlights how child marriage hinders education, increases health risks and limits development opportunities. 

To date, the campaign has reached around 32.5 million views on different social media platforms including MoSS official pages and national media websites.

Minister of Social Solidarity H.E. Dr. Nivine El-Kabbag said: “The Covid 19 pandemic has caused the most vulnerable groups to become poorer and more vulnerable, as job opportunities especially in the informal job market have decreased, thus inflicting growing poverty rates in Egypt and around the world.  The economic challenges have contributed to the rise of harmful traditional practices such as child marriage and trafficking of girls; this violates the rights of children mainly, and specifically girls.”

She highlighted that “To accommodate the increasing demands and challenges of vulnerable groups, the Ministry of Social Solidarity had to expand its’ social safety nets and social protection programs to accommodate the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, furthermore, with more children staying from school, MoSS had to invest further in sponsoring children of vulnerable families to stay in the education system without burdening parents with additional costs including receiving internet packages to meet the requirements of virtual learning methods.  Simultaneously, MoSS introduced the child marriage conditionality to the Takaful Conditional Cash Transfer Program, yet complimented the condition with supportive schemes to keep children of vulnerable families in schools through the equal opportunities for education program (500 million LE for education of Takaful & Karama Program) that promotes providing students of high merit and excellence to join university or college education, thus eventually enhancing them to help their families to break the multi-dimensional poverty cycle.”

The Protection of children’s rights is a core commitment of the European Union. The practice of child marriage endangers children’s rights and challenges gender equality and exposes child brides to serious abuse and health risks. We are glad to be part of this successful campaign which increases the awareness of all issues concerning early marriage,” said the EU HOD Ambassador H.E. Christian Berger.

Chargé d’affaires at the British Embassy, Qudsi Rasheed said: “I am delighted to see the launch today of this timely and vitally important campaign helping to prevent child marriage in Egypt. The UK is clear that every girl deserves to be able to realise her full potential. By helping to educate girls, their families, and their communities about the damage child marriage can do, the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity, supported by the UK, the EU and UNDP, is making a real difference to millions of people across Egypt. Educating girls is the right thing to do full stop and brings substantial economic and health benefits. I’m sure that this campaign will continue the great work of MoSS as part of the Waai programme and help improve life outcomes for those who most need our support.”

“Child marriage is often attributed to specific customs and traditions. The main cause, however, is poverty- not only material poverty but also educational disadvantages and other obstacles to social mobility. Ensuring the security and safety of young girls at risk of early marriage calls for significant and carefully targeted investment in education and economic empowerment. Thanks to the ministry and our donors, the EU and the UK, for their commitment and support to this important cause”, UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt Alessandro Fracassetti stated.

The ‘Strengthening Institutional and Human Resources Capacities of the Ministry of Social Solidarity’ project is funded by the European Delegation (EUR 6.8 million) and the UK (GBP 1.8 million). It is implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

This year, the project will focus on helping to reduce the economic, social and health impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable households by enhancing their access to social care and welfare services and conducting an awareness raising programme to help prevent the further spread of the pandemic.

For more info:

UNDP: Fatma Elzahraa Yassin, Communications Head, fatma.yassin@undp.org