Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights
8/10, Madhaf el-Manial Street
11th Floor, Apt. 25
Tel: (202) 532.3649
Fax: (202) 363.2352
Email: [email protected]
East Africa Four Literacies Program:
Body Literacy, Word Literacy, Money Literacy and Civil Literacy
WOMANKIND Worldwide (UK), Kembetta Women’s Self-Help Centre,
The Ethiopian Women’s Trust, Women’s Association of Tigray, ICEDA
(Ethiopia), Pokot Kiletat Women Group, Gender and Development Centre
(Kenya), Save Somali Women and Children, Black Women’s Health and
Family Support (Somalia), Babiker Badri Scientific Association for
Women’s Studies, Sudan National Committee on Traditional Practices
(Sudan), Care for Girls Committee (Egypt).
Responsible Technical Officer
Date of Commencing FGC-abandonment activities
Project Update, December 2003
Available on www.ecwregypt.org
“We received our UK partners from WOMANKIND Worldwide from
12-15 December to discuss and evaluate program work and formulate
a strategic plan for the coming years.
Edward Wageni and Sarah Hibberd were able to visit school girls
in Giza and meet with beneficiaries of the program during their
visit. The program aims to create and strengthen a network of organizations
working to improve the rights of women and girls in East Africa,
through a four-pronged approach targeting education, health, and
civil and economic rights.
The East Africa Four Literacies Programme is a partnership of organisations
from Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and the UK. Our goal
is improving the rights of women, focusing on issues such as female
genital mutilation, early marriage, and other forms of discrimination
against girls and women. Our overall aim is to address women’s vulnerability
and marginal status, through a ‘Four Literacies’ programme targeting
body literacy, money literacy, word literacy and civil literacy.
ECWR carries out a number of activities as part of this programme.
a) Training Sessions
ECWR has held a number of training sessions focussing on the dangers
of female genital mutilation and early marriage, in addition to
building capacity of literacy teachers and holding activity days
The training sessions target health workers in NGOs to train them
in methods of eliminating FGM and early marriage while at the same
time raising awareness among the public of the dangers of both.
The training focusses on:
– the human body and understanding the value of every part;
– FGM, early marriage and how both affect girls;
– FGM as a health risk;
– Islamic and Christian perspectives;
– the legal situation;
– the mechanisms of field work;
– how to moderate effective discussions with women, including being
able to answer all their questions;
Training sessions were also held for teachers of literacy programmes
in order to:
build capacity of teachers to enable them to attract students.
Use dialogue skills to develop the relation between the teacher
and the students.
Raise awareness of human roles among teachers to enable them to
do more than just educate students.
Through discussions with teachers we identified the main areas of
importance for them and designed sessions covering the following
Communication skills and dialogue skills
Using social awareness in the methods
Methods of attracting students
Activity days for children have included:
A one-day workshop for young girls to talk about children’s rights
and to give them the opportunity to learn about this issue through
play. We discovered their creative potential by planning 3 hours
of activities for the girls in the public park, aiming to:
1. discover the creative potential of the girls through asking
each girl to make a drawing of her hopes for the future.
2. find out why they chose that particular hope.
3. spend a relaxed and happy time playing in the park.
Read more about the girls’ hopes and dreams and see some of their
A Cultural and Creative Day for children of Mohamed Farid School,
el-Warrak, north Giza, held in cooperation with the Giza District
for Learning and Education.
b) Preventing Early Marriage
The programme works to support the education of girls to prevent
their early marriage. We try to establish good relationships with
families and to befriend them, giving us the chance to talk to them
and help them and to be regarded as friends in their communities.
Using this method, we convinced 32 families to allow their daughters
to return to school by offering them the fees and a few other expenses.
In this way girls will be safe, their families will not force them
into early marriage or to take potentially dangerous jobs.
We have also carried out social research for 60 girls to study
their circumstances and their needs. We found that they needed more
assistance than provision of school fees, so we decided to offer
additional services, including covering the costs of their school
uniform, books, and stationery.
CASE STUDY: One girl of 14 years of age was already engaged to
a bus driver when we met her. He was working in the private sector
with temporary employment and is a friend of the girl’s brother-in-law,
who is also a temporary bus driver. Both her brother-in-law and
her fiance were known to take drugs and her fiance hit her on a
daily basis to get more money to finance his drug habit. Although
aware of this, the family had no choice but to marry their daughter
because of their own lack of income. ECWR offered the family all
the assistance they needed for their daughter to return to school
and as a result of this she has now left her fiance and she is continuing
with her education, insisting that in future she will not be trapped
in the same way.
c) Awareness Raising
We have held 76 discussion sessions with women to discuss FGM,
early marriage and education. In combination with the training sessions
we have so far reached around 3000 women.
d) Local Exchange Visits
We have made many exchange visits to NGOs working in the areas
of education, FGM and early marriage to develop a strong network.
As a result many NGOs now include FGM as part of their work and
have an increased awareness of issues such as early marriage and
the importance of education for girls. We have built a strong network
of 21 NGOs in the area working in the field of education. Information
is disseminated to all who are concerned to spread awareness and
to avoid a repetition of the same work.
e) Joint Website
In year two of the programme we set up a joint website with information
about the programme, its mission, activities, research and all partners.
In year three, we updated the site and launched an Arabic site.
In addition, a leaflet was designed and printed which gives general
information about the site along with an insert on education. We
have received a lot of positive feedback and have made new contacts
with similar organizations through the website.
The main lesson we have learnt from our work with the girls in
Giza is that it requires a lot of effort, time and patience to build
a good relationship with the families of the girls concerned. This
length of time however is necessary to gain their trust and eventually
generates positive results. This does not allow a large number of
girls to be helped, but what we are able to do is offer effective
services and raise awareness at a wider level. In addition, our
experience with these families confirmed the need to use very simple
methods to reach them as most are illiterate. We have also found
that it is much easier to work with young people under the age of
18 and to change their attitudes. At the grassroots level there
is a lack of awareness of many of the issues we tackle, but once
people are given the opportunity they are active and ready for change.
However, a greater level of empowerment is required at this level.
Regarding the training sessions, the main lessons learned are as
– firstly we found that it is much more effective to train multipliers
of information who can spread the information much more widely;
– secondly, the target group for training sessions must be carefully
selected in order that the participants are not only interested
in the subject matter, but are committed to spreading the information
in order that maximum benefit is generated from the training. We
discovered that some of our target group although interested in
the subject matter for their own benefit, were not committed to
their jobs, which are very low-paid, and therefore disseminating
The East Africa Four Literacies Programme is supported by
Previous Projects Related to FGC
Included in FGM campaigning in the past.
Publications on FGC
Protection of Women in the Penal Code. Protection of Women Against
Violence: FGM, Sexual Abuse, Rape and Abduction. Information Booklet.
Prepared by Ahmed Mohsen.
For more information and updates on project,
Nihad Abu el-Komsam