How Cairo’s girls are fighting back

Ninety-nine percent of girls and women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment, leaving many too afraid to even walk down the street in case they are abused or kidnapped. These issues affect girls’ rights, especially their right to an education, as they often encounter teasing and insults on their way to school.

Plan International is working to change this through our Safer Cities for Girls program in Cairo. Plan supports girls’ groups, where girls and young women are encouraged to be confident, speak out and express their opinions.

The program trains girls and boys to better understand their rights, recognize and avoid harassment where possible and redefine acceptable nonviolent masculine behaviors. It also provides girls with safe spaces and establishes clubs where they can learn, play and build social networks.

Girls participate in safety walks around their city to assess their communities and pinpoint problem areas, later meeting with local officials and transportation workers to share concerns. Some girls help raise awareness about harassment through community meetings and media communications. Others become “Girl Ambassadors” who speak nationally and internationally to key stakeholders in support of gender equality.

Now, when the girls are harassed on the streets, they are able to defend themselves.