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Women's rights

The project ‘Promoting women’s rights’, activated in the Sohag district is financed by the Italian-Egyptian programme of Debt Conversion and by the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). It is a project aimed at supporting women’s rights and against female genital mutilations in the Sohag district.

The context

The area where the project takes place is the Governorate of Sohag, High Egypt, characterized by a high incidence of poverty (according to the second Human Development Report, published by UNDP, 59 out of the poorest 100 villages in Egypt are placed in this area) and by a conservative and traditionalist society. 

A field survey, carried out during the first project’s month, in January 2010, has highlighted the various forms of gender-based violence taking place in this area: domestic violence, early and forced marriages, discrimination and persecutory behaviours towards widows or divorced women, female genital mutilations, discrimination of little and young girls in the families and at school.

 Objectives of the project

M.A.I.S.’s activity aims at contributing to the promotion of women’s and girls’ rights and to the strengthening of civil society organisations’ capacity. To reach this aim it is necessary to work for the change of those cultural and social attitudes that make women and children exposed to violent and harmful behaviours, to increase awareness about violent and discriminating practices, to make access to support services easier for women who are victims of violence, and to train operators of the civil society organisations (particularly the Community Development Associations), from an empowerment and sustainability point of view.


The intervetion

The intervention includes a programme of training on women’s rights and gender-based violence, addressed to key social subjects of local communities: doctors, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, civil society organisations’ representatives. These subjects will then become the promoters of an awareness programme in each local community. The problems linked with violence will be faced through an analysis of legal, religious, social and medical implications.

A programme of workshops held by ‘facilitators’ (who are thoroughly selected and trained, and come from the local communities) in villages, allows women and men who benefit from the project, to know women’s rights and to face the issue of gender-based violence through a variety of tips and practical examples. Moreover, individual face to face meetings are organised for women who cannot take part in the group workshops.  

The strengthening of civil society organisations’ capacity can be obtained through the training of a group of representatives of local associations on the issues of internal self-management, relations with institutions and lobbying, so that the basis for sustainability and reproducibility of the project’s actions can be created.

An action of violent and discriminatory behaviours prevention is addressed to school children, through recreational, visual and artistic activities, implemented both in schools and local associations’ spaces.


Access for women to their rights is made easier by social support services to victims of violence, particularly by legal, medical and psychological consulting and by a micro-credit programme.

Finally, a media awareness campaign will be launched. This will be carried out in partnership with the Egyptian National Observatory on Children’s rights, on the issue of gender-based violence. It will plan a tv advert, written and made by children living in the villages and will therefore be a chance for implementing activities in schools and for strengthening the relation between the civil society and local institutions.