The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) — in collaboration with the Cervantes Institute in Cairo — organised on Monday the launching event of the community-based research study ‘Not Brides: Determinants and Consequences of Child Marriage in Egypt.’
The study will be conducted by Tadwein for Gender Studies as part of its activities for the 16 days of activism and this year’s global UNITE! Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls Campaign.
This event is part of the Team Europe campaign — #TeamEurope4WomenandGirls — developed by the European delegation, which is the first campaign to be based on a Team Europe approach to send a strong message of European partnership and solidarity.
The launching event included the participation of various national stakeholders, members of Parliament, civil society organisations, feminist groups, academics and other relevant parties to mobilise urgent, coordinated, multi-disciplinary, and community-led approaches to end violence against women and girls.
The study falls under the framework of The Impact of Early Marriage on Women in Egypt project funded by AECID and carried out between 2019 and 2021. The project was carried out in collaboration with four community-based organisations in Fayoum and Greater Cairo and provided a series of awareness workshops for 120 married couples and underage unmarried girls in respective governorates.
The study strengthens the evidence on the severity of the state of child marriage in Egypt and calls for holistic and comprehensive responses towards ending child marriage through the design of advocacy, policy, and intervention programmes.
“As soon as I got married, I had two miscarriages, and the doctor told me it is because I am still very young,” one girl shared in the programme’s booklet. “My health began to worsen, and when I complained to my husband, he told me that I did not have the right to speak up.”
The results of the research revealed that the practice of child marriage is driven by social, economic, and structural drivers, with the most powerful driver being the notion of “al-sutra” or protecting the chastity and modesty of a girl. Aside from the need to issue a law that criminalises early marriage, the study presents policy recommendations and methods of intervention.
In Egypt, nearly one in every 20 girls from ages 15 to 17 are married, according to a 2017 census by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Egypt’s Child Law 126/2008 sets the minimum marriage age at 18 years for both females and males, and Egypt’s Cabinet approved a draft law as recently as 12 April 2022 to criminalise child marriages, with penalties of no less than one year in prison and a fine between EGP 50,000 ($2,600) and EGP 200,000 ($10,400).
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda has become consolidated as a priority and a hallmark of Spanish cooperation and Spain’s foreign policy. The feminist foreign policy adopted by Spain is guided by the principle of the ‘transformative approach,’ which aims to ensure coherence across all projects and bring about a structural change in institutional cultures.