Infotmation and stories on Egypt

Vaccines in Egypt
For the past 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States has assisted the Egyptian government by providing aid to fight vaccine-preventable diseases. Efforts such as strengthening immunization services, responding to public health emergencies and conducting surveillance studies and surveys have contributed to the reduction of these fatal diseases. The CDC has provided financial support for diseases that can be prevented by vaccines in Egypt through the World Health Organization (WHO), which focuses on polio, measles and rubella elimination.

Impeding Access to Vaccines

In 2006, vaccinations in Egypt eradicated wild poliovirus transmissions. The government continues to monitor the environment for wild polioviruses in a program involving the CDC and other organizations. However, despite the efforts of these organizations, many of those living in poverty in Egypt still do not have access to the vaccination. This presents a problem in the eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases since disease such as the wild poliovirus could return.

According to WHO, full immunization coverage for the poorest to the wealthiest populations showed national levels in Egypt to be under 20 percent. Studies show that the high rates of unemployment and low literacy rates contribute to the increase in the population living in poverty. This results in many individuals being unaware of the healthcare and medical aid they are entitled to and leads to the low proportions of immunization within the population.

Many children are also part of the child labor industry. Working interferes with their school attendance and education, resulting in low literacy rates, which perpetuate the ongoing poverty cycle. Without awareness of health and safety maintenance, those who live under the poverty line may not have the necessary knowledge to access vaccinations in Egypt.

Improvements Made in Vaccinations

The Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) in Egypt focuses on saving lives by controlling vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and whooping cough through constant surveillance and an increase in vaccine coverage. Despite the extreme decline of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases in the past decades, outbreaks of measles in 2013 and 2014 suggests that full immunization coverage is not yet supported for all populations of Egypt.

However, despite 60 percent of the population living under the poverty line and a large number of people not receiving immunizations, resources and efforts towards improving access to vaccinations in Egypt have increased. WHO claims that only 24 cases of measles, 5.9 cases of mumps and 34 cases of rubella were reported in 2017. A drastic decrease compared to decades of consistent outbreaks in the thousands. Part of the progress could be a result of the fact that 94 percent of children aged 12-23 had received measles vaccinations in 2017. Furthermore, in 2008-2009, there was a significant increase in vaccines in Egypt for measles, mumps and rubella, with 95 percent of children having been vaccinated, an increase of 53 percent from 2007.

The Future of Disease Control

The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) works to promote the funding of the Haemophilus influenza vaccine as a part of the PENTA vaccine, a type of vaccine designed to protect the receiver from multiple diseases. The PENTA vaccine will help fight bacterial pneumonia, a communicable disease that contributes to high mortality rates. With WHO supporting the MoHP, the push for programs that fight viral hepatitis is stronger as more resources are being devoted to procuring equipment, allocating funding and the constant surveillance of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.

Efforts to control vaccine-preventable diseases are allocating funding to provide coverage for those who may not be able to afford it. Now, increased focus on spreading awareness to the population about the importance and availability of vaccines in Egypt is needed in order to increase coverage and finally eradicate some of the vaccine-preventable diseases in the country.

– Aria Ma
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Egypt
Education is one of the quickest ways for development and equality to happen in a society. Egypt is one of many countries that recognizes the importance of education in general and specifically, girls education.

The country has already made great strides towards equal educational opportunities for girls and progress only continues. In the article below, top 10 facts about girls’ education in Egypt and the implemented plans for development in the country are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Egypt

  1. There is a clear gender gap in Egypt’s education. Studies show that 64 percent of Egyptian girls and women above the age of 9 cannot read. The Egyptian government is doing everything to change this statistic by revamping the entire education system. Great plans for new education reforms and eliminating illiteracy entirely are established.
  2. In support of girls’ education in Egypt, the Ministry of Local Development plans to end illiteracy in just three years, starting in June 2018. The plan focuses on getting girls into safe and clean school early as early as possible.
  3. Egypt is completely redesigning their education system to reach girls.  However, Egypt is focusing on providing an inclusive and quality education for anyone who seeks it, regardless of gender. This goal is perfectly expressed in Egypt Education Reform Project.
  4. The new reform focuses on primary and secondary schooling and rejects superficial approaches to learning, instead of promoting the development of important life skills such as problem-solving abilities. The Minister of Education in Egypt, Dr. Tarek Shawki, explained that the goals of the education system are teaching real-world knowledge and self-understanding. Children will be learning life skills as well as self-reflection.
  5. In support of girls’ education in Egypt, The World Bank is investing $500 million to improve access to quality primary and secondary education. This funding aims to upgrade classrooms and technology, allowing for around 500,000 children to start their education as early as in kindergarten by 2023. This funding will also allow for continued professional development for teachers and supervising staff.
  6. In 2000, the literacy rate for boys aged 15 to 24 was 80 percent and 64 percent for girls of the same age. In 2017, however, the literacy rate increased to 94 percent for boys and 92 percent for girls.
  7. The World Education’s integrated literacy initiative uses health information to teach women to read. The project, funded by the Ford Foundation, teaches women and girls how to read with books on women’s health, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, breastfeeding, and health care for infants and new mothers. This program was so successful it is now standard in Egypt’s adult literacy programs.
  8. Educated women encourage more girls to go to school. One woman explained that once she began her education, her daughter, who was illiterate and had received no prior schooling, felt encouraged to begin literacy training. Girls will learn from their mothers and the women around them that education and empowerment are intertwined.
  9. Many girls are denied the right to an education because they are pushed by their parents and communities into getting married. New education opportunities and developments reject the idea that married women cannot be educated and emphasize that girls’ education in Egypt is key to development and growth.
  10. Investing in women’s education will promote rapid development in Egypt. In school, girls can learn about healthy choices and civic duties, alongside new technology and media. Women will know how to keep records, manage loans and handle other financing programs, allowing for growth in Egypt’s business and economy. This can be done with the help of U.N. Women and other organizations as well. According to the IMF, raising the female labor force participation rate to the male level, coupled with access to employment opportunities, would increase GDP by approximately 34 percent.

Egypt is a great example of how less developed countries can and should be committed to giving girls quality education. Great progress has been made in the country, as presented in the top 10 facts above, but there is room for more improvements.

A great way to stay involved with girls’ education in Egypt and across the world is to support Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act. Contacting U.S. state and national representatives to support this bill ensures that girls’ access to education only continues to improve.

Photo: Flickr

poverty, egypt, life conditions
Egypt is an African country known for its rich culture, extensive history and seemingly otherworldly monuments. However, not many people are familiar with the living conditions in this country. For example, over a quarter of the population in Egypt is below the poverty line. To elaborate on the specifics of the living conditions, 10 facts about life in Egypt are presented in the text below.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Egypt

  1. Ten million children in the country are considered multi-dimensionally poor, meaning they are deprived of daily necessities such as clean water, access to proper health care and education. These children lack some or all of mentioned necessities. What makes the situation even worse is that over 50 percent of the Egyptian population is under the age of 20.
  2. Starting in 2014, the Egypt government began to concentrate on enforcing a reforms program for the country’s economy. The program has yielded gradual improvements and should continue to persevere. As an example, in the fiscal year 2018, GDP grew at a 5.3 percent rate, compared to 4.2 percent in 2017.
  3. In Egypt’s capital, Cairo, roughly 11 million out of the total of 17 million inhabitants live in extra-legally formed housing, otherwise known as the slums. The slums are very underdeveloped forms of shelter for those that cannot afford proper housing and amenities. Fortunately, nongovernmental organization Habitat for Humanity has helped build and renovate roughly 33,000 homes in 33 different communities since 2017.
  4. Inhabitants of the slums don’t have access to basic needs and services such as electricity, water pipes and sewage system. These people, in general, suffer more from asthma, allergies and renal failure because they live in such unsanitary conditions and don’t have as easy access to proper drinking water. The homes that Habitat for Humanity help construct are built with proper, durable materials and employ safe sanitary systems.
  5. The political unrest mixed with the fear that security at ancient sites is not guaranteed has resulted in an increase in unemployment, a devastation in the tourism industry and consequential damage to the country’s economy.
  6. The education system is similar to that of the U.S. in the sense that there are 12 official years and education in municipal school is free. However, the schools, especially those of higher education, are heavily underfunded and a lot of people cannot afford to send their children to higher quality confidential schooling. With the help of CARE, an organization combatting poverty around the globe, education is becoming more available. CARE serves to promote and support education to those who aren’t able to afford it.
  7. Egypt is very rich in its own culture but the country is also influenced by the surrounding countries. This fact has resulted in a very diverse culture as well as the population. The main influences in the country are those from France, other African countries and Mediterranean countries.
  8. Egypt’s total population exceeds 90 million making it the most populated country in the Middle East. The population is diversified and, along with the rich history, this makes the country a real hub for culture.
  9. Egypt’s Minister of Education, Tarek Shawky, has come to the decision to implement teaching English in schools, starting from the kindergarten. This way, children will be given an opportunity to learn English at an early age and to become competitive at the global market.
  10. The country has been in a state of political unrest and turmoil with the price of basic goods and necessities rising obscenely and placing too many people below the poverty line. The streets of Egypt were a site of unrest in which political activists, protesters and journalists were thrown in jail is not so distant history. However, Egypt’s economy and the country as a whole, for the first time in a while, is in with the hopes of bringing this turmoil to peace. A bright moment for the country was participation in the World Soccer Cup held in Russia.

Through the U.S. education system, kids growing up learning about ancient Egypt and ancient Egyptian lifestyles but they never really learn about what life is like in modern day Egypt.

These 10 facts about life in Egypt provide a little bit of insight on the culture and day-to-day life of Egypt’s people in today’s world for the people that do not know what the current situation is. They also give an insight into the country’s potential of the recovery after rough years mixed with war and fear.

– Samantha Harward
Photo: Flickr

Roma Who are the Roma? While believed to have originated from Egypt (hence the slang term ‘gypsy’), the Roma people can actually trace their origins back to northern India. From around 700AD onward, they migrated across Europe, working as entertainers, artisans and farm workers. For a long time, they managed to get by in this fashion without issue.

Moving Through Europe

As time went on, cracks began to appear in their initial acceptance. It seemed that everywhere the Roma went, the ruling class wanted to tie them down or expel them. If they went to places such as Wallachia and Moldova, for example, they would find themselves enslaved. Moving to western European countries like Spain meant death or forced assimilation.

After the last emancipation of the Roma slaves in 1864, it seemed as though the Roma group had begun to make some progress. In the years after the first World War, the Roma began to make moves towards social and political lobbying. The first Roma organization, The General Association of Romanian Roma, appeared and The World Roma Congress had its first meeting in 1933.

Then, the Nazi regime began to target the Roma along with the Jews. During World War II they faced the stripping of their nationality, deportation to labor camps and even mass executions. It is estimated by historians that at least 220,000 Roma were killed in Europe during World War II, but the exact numbers are unknown.

Who Are the Roma?

Now, ask the question today: who are the Roma? One would assume that, in a modern day society that focuses on social inclusion, the Roma would fare better today. Yet, even in the present day, the Roma remain the group the most discriminated against in Europe.

The Roma today find themselves the victims of hate crimes such as having their homes burned or physical assault. In many of these cases, the local police fail to provide them with the protection or justice that they need. The police are also known to discriminate against the Roma and treat them with less dignity than non-Roma.

They also struggle in everyday society due to the disadvantages of prejudice. Despite regulations, situations such as segregated schooling for Roma children and lower wages for Roma workers still exist in Europe. Some Roma even have trouble purchasing land on which they could build homes. This means that even those who want to work for a better life might have trouble achieving it.

Thus, the Roma could remain trapped in their current disadvantaged situation. Consider the fact that 70 percent of the Roma population throughout the world lives in poverty. Many of them live in slums without electricity or running water.

Where Can the Roma Turn to in Search of Hope?

Government intervention seems the only possible way to provide the Roma with the assistance that they need to rise out of their current situation. And indeed, the governments of multiple countries have created programs of varying success, such as the Phare programs of the early 2000’s.

Yet, a 2013 Brigham Young University Paper indicates what might prevent the success of Roma assistance. The paper stated that at least in Romania, the local governments focus upon the integration of the Roma into society. They do not focus on integrating the Roma in a way that will not kill their culture.

Indeed, many Roma still live traditional, nomadic lives and are unwilling to leave them even if it means living in poverty. This culture, however, clashes with the current sedentary European culture. Unless these two cultures can find a compromise in the future, some Roma might still live on the fringes of society.

There are groups like The Minority Rights Group International and Amnesty International that are working to educate people about the Roma by working with the Roma communities and governments. The U.N. has been working with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to address providing business opportunities and social services to the Roma in the country through enacting a two-year “Action Plan for the National Roma Strategy.” They hope to find solutions to many of the problems the Roma face every day.

Ask the question again: who are the Roma? They are a people who have faced countless tragedies in the past and now face an uncertain future. Yet, when given the assistance and understanding that they need, they may be able to find their own place in society where they can thrive.

– Elizabeth Frerking

Photo: Flickr

UNDP Provides Legal Aid in Egypt for Impoverished and Illiterate
For those who are poor or illiterate, understanding and using legal services is often difficult and preventative from obtaining justice. Since 2008, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has worked with the Ministry of Justice to provide free legal aid in Egypt for the impoverished and illiterate, establishing 35 Legal Aid Offices as of 2016.

Free Legal Aid in Egypt

This project focuses on disputes in family courts and handles cases that do not require an attorney. Without this help, those who are impoverished generally cannot afford legal services and the illiterate do not have the skills to successfully fill out the required paperwork. These two populations often intersect, as the poor are more likely to be illiterate.

Financed by UNDP and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), over 50,000 cases in Egypt have now been assisted by free Legal Aid Offices.

The project also trains staff, holds roundtables for family court judges and assists with digitizing family court records. Approximately 17 training sessions and workshops for family court judges have been organized, reaching over 500 judges and legal aid employees.

Dispute Settlement offices have been upgraded as well, and employees have received training on dispute settlement skills, child rights and personal status laws. Additionally, efforts have been made to influence lawmakers to amend laws that would make the processing of cases more efficient and lead to cases being resolved more quickly.

New Goals, New Connections

Beginning in 2013, new goals were added to the project after an evaluation by an independent consultant of the free legal aid in Egypt. These goals include:

  • Developing adequate training programming
  • Improving court and case management
  • Modernizing hotlines in order to get feedback
  • Increasing dissemination of legal information
  • Designing outreach programs for both literate and illiterate women

The Ministry of Justice is working to establish a central electronic database of court decisions to link electronically to Egypt’s national bank. This connection would make payments awarded by the courts easier to collect.

In December 2014, UNDP, the Egyptian Ministry of Justice, the National Center for Judicial Studies, and the French Cultural Center in Egypt organized a workshop for legal aid employees. This workshop was “to strengthen participants’ knowledge of French legal framework for family mediation and introduce practical tools for mediation based on international best practices and relevance to local family courts.”

Legal Aid in Egypt Empowers Egyptian Women

Approximately one million cases are filed in Egyptian family courts each year, and 80 percent of those are brought by women. Therefore, the UNDP’s legal aid in Egypt is often for women in desperate need of legal services. In fact, over 70 percent of the 50,000 cases handled by the project were filed by women.

Without this support, women — particularly poor and illiterate women — often do not have the resources to settle marital or family disputes. Male family members or spouses can often get away with violent behavior or criminal acts if the woman they’ve harmed is barred from legal aid by a system not amenable to vulnerable populations.

Incidents of Personal Distress

For example, “Yasmin” is an Egyptian woman who faced legal difficulties after her ex-husband kidnapped her oldest daughter. She went to the court on multiple occasions, unable to find a resolution to this problem. However, with the free legal services provided by UNDP, Yasmin was finally able to file her claim in the family court system.

Another woman, Omaima Abdel Khaleq, utilized free legal aid in Egypt to file a domestic violence case against her husband. She explains, “The legal aid office made me aware of what exactly I should do instead of being lost among lawyers.”

Situations like these are not uncommon for women, and the project’s Legal Aid Offices help women complete the required paperwork, as well as provide legal advice about their rights and claims.

Helping the Impoverished and Illiterate

If an individual is illiterate, they are far less likely to be knowledgeable about the laws that protect them (or the person they wish to file a claim against). Without the help of an oftentimes unaffordable attorney or legal services, these people will not be able to access the information they need to correctly file a claim and obtain justice.

Project manager Gihane El Batouty states, “We are helping people themselves — and women themselves — with their legal rights.” UNDP wants to continue to grow this project, as it has become essential to helping the impoverished and illiterate, many of whom are women, access legal aid in Egypt.

Across the globe, UNDP supports similar initiatives in 54 other countries. This support reflects the organization’s commitment to making legal services available to vulnerable populations.

Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Child Hunger in EgyptIn the wake of the political turmoil brought on by the Arab Spring, Egypt has struggled to maintain economic stability. Even after years of recovery, 28 percent of Egyptians live in poverty and 12.5 percent are unemployed.  Unfortunately, children bear a large brunt of the crisis. The World Food Programme (WFP) found that nearly 31 percent of Egyptian children under five are considered malnourished. To combat this, the WFP, USAID and other organizations are stepping in to help schools, farmers and more fight child hunger in Egypt.

Providing Access to Food

According to the WFP, 16 percent of Egyptians have inadequate access to food. This shortage affects all Egyptians, but especially families living in the rural Northern region of Egypt. In rural Egypt, 21.3 percent of the population has poor access to food.

To help alleviate the effect this shortage has on children, the WFP and the Egyptian government are working on providing free school meals to children who attend community schools – rural, one-room schools common in Northern Egypt.  This initiative helps feed hungry children and encourages families to continue to send their children to school even in hard times.

Recently, Egypt has had an influx of refugees escaping the civil war in Syria. These families are often in dire need of help and, as a response, the school meals program was expanded to include refugee children attending schools of all kinds. This is part of the wider Syria Refugee Regional Response program, which aims to train refugees in vocational skills that hold value in the market.

Supporting Agriculture to Lessen Child Hunger in Egypt

Agriculture is an integral part of the Egyptian economy and an important factor when tackling child hunger. Agriculture makes up 14.5 percent of the annual GDP and accounts for 28 percent of all jobs. Despite this, most farmers operate on a small scale and use traditional methods of farming that do not always line up with international standards. Examples of this include using too much or an incorrect type of chemical, resulting in poor yields and soil.

USAID has been working closely with these farmers as a part of its Feed the Future approach to sustainable food supplies. One way the group aims to create sustainability is to focus on farmers growing high-value crops such as tomatoes or green beans. USAID also helps farmers adjust their plans according to the market and needs of their buyers.

Transportation of crops is an issue in rural Egypt, where there is little infrastructure in place to carry goods across the country in temperatures that can sometimes be above 40 degrees Celsius. In response, USAID has helped build small storage houses in rural Egypt where local communities can store their crops more effectively. This process cuts down waste significantly, allowing farmers to bring in a bigger profit, reduce waste and feed their surrounding areas.

Moving Toward a Fuller Future

With proper farming strategies in place, rural Egyptians are positioned to feed their surrounding areas and their families, helping stop child hunger in Egypt while supporting the agricultural economy as well. Organizations such as the WFP and USAID are working together with both farmers and the government to provide food to those who need it most in a sustainable manner. This includes reforming farming practices and implementing programs that encourage students to go to school while providing meals to Egypt’s most vulnerable children.

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

Egypt's Energy NeedsEgypt, a nation once plagued by frequent power blackouts, may have found a remedy to its power needs. The discovery of the Noor natural gas field, the largest offshore field in the Mediterranean Sea, could prove a permanent solution to Egypt’s energy needs and put it on the road to self-sufficiency. This discovery could help Egypt become an exporter of natural gas as well as encourage more foreign investment.

To contextualize what kind of impact this discovery is, one need only compare the Zohr natural gas field, which had been Egypt’s largest natural gas field until 2015, and the Noor natural gas field. The Zohr field is approximately 60 square miles and contains around 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Noor, on the other hand, is about three times the size of Zohr and could contain as much as 90 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Egypt’s Power Problem

The dual threat of ballooning demand and declining production have put a constant strain on the Egyptian energy sector. In 2014, when Egypt endured one of its most dire energy crises, parts of the country experienced six power cuts per day lasting about two hours at a time. Electricity demand was 20 percent greater than power stations could provide.

In large part, gas shortages were due to an uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Divisive political struggles deterred investors and tourists, which in turn caused foreign currency reserves to decline. In order to meet demand, Egypt was forced to sacrifice important gas exports.

Solution to Egypt’s Energy Needs

Noor is instrumental in reducing the gap between total gas consumption in Egypt (4.9 billion cubic feet per day in 2016) and total daily production in Egypt (4 billion cubic feet). In order to meet its energy needs and compensate for excessive consumption, Egypt has been forced to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) at high costs.

In 2015/2016, Egypt purchased 89 cargoes of liquefied natural gas at a staggering $2.2 billion. With the Zohr field, in addition to the newly discovered Noor field, Egypt could end these purchases by the end of next year, according to Egypt’s oil minister Tarek El-Molla. This will enable Egypt to become independent in their natural gas production and make them a net exporter.

How Does This Help

By satisfying local demand, Egypt can spend significantly less on energy. Using those savings, Egypt can invest in improved infrastructure, healthcare and education. By turning to grid-connected gas, Egypt can avoid the fuel subsidies associated with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) use. Fuel subsidies have accounted for anywhere from 18-20 percent of Egypt’s expenditure, an amount equal to 5-7 percent of GDP.

According to the World Bank’s Country Director for Egypt, Hartwig Schafer, “Conversion to piped natural gas will help give households a safer, more reliable and cheaper supply of gas.” As households make the transition from high-subsidized, imported LPG to locally-produced natural gas, the government will save $201 per household per year. 

The Noor gas field will not only facilitate Egypt’s transition from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter, but it will provide the much-needed solution to Egypt’s energy needs by allowing Egyptians to have a reliable source of power at a much lower cost.

– McAfee Sheehan
Photo: Flickr

Books
Education can do wonders for anyone around the world. In many nations, however, there are young girls who are never given the opportunity to learn how to read, write and communicate.

In Egypt, women are on the lower end of the literacy scale — 65 percent of women are literate compared to 82 percent of men. Interestingly, though, Egypt on the world scale ranks 78 in the “best country for women” and 44 for “best country for education.” Although, Egypt isn’t immune to progress, here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Egypt and how far the nation has come.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Egypt

  1. More girls in Egypt are going to school. Education is becoming more and more accessible to girls in Egypt. In 1996, 66.9 percent of girls in Egypt were literate; this number has increased to 90.3 percent in 2013.
  2. Educating girls is better for the economy. When girls and women are educated there are more jobs for everyone. Low and middle-income countries can add $92 billion a year to their economies if girls went to school for 12 years.
  3. World Education’s integrated literacy initiative is changing lives. The World Education’s integrated literacy initiative brings health education to girls in Egypt, which for many, is a first-time exposure. This initiative encourages girls to become more educated and also promotes them to better take care of themselves.
  4. USAID brings education opportunities to Egypt. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy to reduce poverty and help with international development. In Egypt, USAID works to reduce the gender enrollment gap at each level of education, and also offers improved access for girls to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  5. The number of out-of-school girls has decreased. In 2014, 153,405 girls were out of school. This number dropped significantly in 2016 to 45,132, which demonstrates that more children — especially girls — are attending school.
  6. Education empowers girls in Egypt. Educated women in Egypt are standing up for what they believe and taking a stand against gender prejudice. There are many in Egypt who believe that women shouldn’t receive an education because they will just end up married. In protest of this view, educated women in Egypt state that “education is the key to development” and every girl needs this key.
  7. Egypt plans to end illiteracy in three years. The Ministry of Local Development in Egypt announced in June that they plan to end illiteracy in Egypt within the next three years. Some of the steps to reach this goal is to require each student to teach up to eight illiterate people, provide a reward system so students teach others and organize training courses for teachers.
  8. Poverty affects girls’ education in Egypt. Roughly 45 percent of the Egyptian population lives in poverty and on an income of less than $2 a day. Due to this fiscal poverty, proper education gets put on the back burner for many families.
  9. Egypt’s literacy rate has grown in the last 10 years. In 2005, the literacy rate in Egypt for girls from 15 to 24 was 78.95 percent, and in 2013 it rose to 90.33 percent.
  10. More girls are in primary and tertiary education than boys. The school system in Egypt divides the level of education by age. Pre-primary is four to five years old, primary is six to eleven-year-olds, secondary is 12 to 17-year-olds and tertiary is 18 to 22-year-olds. Currently in Egypt, girls make up 103.67 percent of primary level education where boys make up 103.59 percent. In tertiary education, girls make up 34.85 percent of those enrolled and boys make up 34.04 percent.

Increasing Access to Education

These facts about girls’ education in Egypt demonstrate how the fight for equality is still progressing. Girls crave knowledge just as much as boys do, and thankfully there are many ways other boys, girls, men and women can get involved in helping support girls in developing countries receive the proper education.

One easy way to support access to education to girls in Egypt and those in other developing countries is supporting the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and getting government officials to support this act as well.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

Housing Crisis in Egypt
Poverty takes on many forms, but in Egypt, housing is the epitome of substandard living conditions. Dismal mud brick squatter houses with no windows, no doors, no proper roofing and no protection from the environment’s weather and creatures, are the homes to more than 20 million Egyptians.

Although a vital aspect of wellbeing, housing is one the most neglected segments of Egyptian society and, being present for over 7 decades now, the housing crisis in Egypt is one of the leading issues in its country today.

The Root of Informal Housing

Needless to say, no one would live in this setting by choice. However, many Egyptians are under the crippling circumstances of housing production shortcomings accompanied by falling income and rising costs for adequate housing.

In other words, with less housing for a growing low-income population, poor families have nowhere else to turn; instead, they build their own squatter homes absent of essential qualities of safety and sanitation.

The Necessary Action

According to the Egyptian housing ministry, 2.5 million homes need to be built within a 5-year timeline to catch up with its population growth, make up for its backlog of 3 million homes and ultimately, combat the housing crisis in Egypt. Moreover, international investors are concerned with Egypt’s lack of long-term clarity.

Egypt’s government intervenes in housing projects and subjects development plans to their unforeseen policy swings. Therefore, stability both in the market and political atmosphere of Egypt are prerequisites to attracting much needed foreign investments.

The Arabtec Attempt

From 2014 to mid-2015, the Egyptian government and Arabtec, a construction services provider from the United Arab Emirates, underwent a $40 billion deal to produce a million low-cost homes, ideally relieving the housing crisis in Egypt.

The deal fell through after the Egyptian government went against previous land price agreements by demanding more from Arabtec than it could match. Arabtec could not accept this higher price, especially for the building of low-cost homes rather than the more profitable courses of middle to high-income residential projects.

Potential Solutions

Egypt can implement the public-private partnership practice in which the government and a private sector entity reach an agreement to co-develop housing projects with incentives attracting both parties. Land prices can also be deflated to combat current inflated prices and consequently, prevent gridlock or fallouts in large-scale housing developments with foreign investors.

Finally, once development ventures are undergone, other infrastructural facets must be included — such as roads, utilities and transportation — to avoid more disconnected squatter communities from forming and expanding.

The Future

Although Egypt is in the midst of a housing crisis that has fueled the fire of poverty and substandard living conditions, all efforts are focused on extinguishing such strife-ridden issues. In fact, the government formally stated that its central aim is to tackle the prevailing housing issue after the Egypt Economic Development Conference.

Beginning in 2018, it has been reported that 150,000 low-income homes have been built and 260,000 are currently being constructed. Other housing projects are also in execution, and roads have been installed in desolate areas to promote further development.

Egypt, with the rest of the world, awaits the day that it finally climbs out of its poverty-stricken state. In the meantime, all hands are on deck to resolve the housing crisis in Egypt and provide a more prosperous future.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

Gender Inequality in Egypt
Gender inequality has been an important issue in Egypt for centuries. There are many organizations that recognize how important gender inequality in Egypt is for the economic growth and development of the country. There are many forms of gender inequality that are expressed daily, such as the limitations on women in economic participation, sexual harassment, gender-based violence and unequal access to education.

The Wide-Ranging Effects of Gender Inequality in Egypt

Egypt ranks 136th out of 145 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index. Gender inequality in Egypt is most prominent in the low rate of female participation in the labor force. It is estimated that 26 percent of women participate in the workforce, compared to 79 percent of men. The average yearly income for women in Egypt is $5,218 versus an estimated $17,353 per year for men. This disparity is also seen in literacy rates, which are estimated at 65 percent for women versus 82 percent for men.

The major obstacles to decreasing gender inequality in Egypt are related to economic participation and opportunity, education, health and political empowerment. According to the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, 92 percent of women interviewed between the ages of 15 and 49 had experienced female genital mutilation. This is a major issue that underlies gender inequality in Egypt.

Global Partnerships Work to Empower Women

Gender inequality is recognized as an issue that inhibits the growth of the entire country. There are several organizations that are developing partnerships and programs that work to empower women and foster growth. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has developed the Sustainable Development Goals that focus on increasing women’s access to social, economic and legal rights. In 2015, the Egypt Network for Integrated Development developed the One Product One Village program to train women in several trades, including handloom embroidery, alabaster, leather accessories, sand pottery, general carpentry and laser cutting.

UNDP has partnered with Microsoft to create programs that address gender inequality in Egypt. One program, known as the Mentorship Program, mentors young women to help them develop a career path. In addition, the Social Innovation Hub was launched at the National Council for Women, which aims to bridge the gap between public education and job market needs. This organization is also a part of the Aspire Women Initiative that empowers female leaders.

USAID has partnered with the Egyptian government to fight gender inequality by acting to remove the constraints on women’s participation in the economy, addressing sexual harassment and gender-based violence and improving access to education for young women. Since 2014, USAID has provided more than 600 scholarships to women seeking higher education. USAID has also developed programs to train community health workers to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, early marriage, domestic violence and female genital mutilation.

Gender inequality in Egypt has been an issue for centuries. However, there are many organizations that are partnering to end this growth inhibiting factor. The goal of ending gender inequality will help Egypt develop not only economically, but socially as well. The progress of these programs is notable, but there is still work to be done to completely eliminate gender inequality in Egypt.

– Kristen Hibbett
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