] Gender Equity & Its Relation to Female Genital Mutilation in Rural Minia, Egypt

Research Article

Austin J Public Health Epidemiol. 2017; 4(1): 1056.

Gender Equity & Its Relation to Female Genital Mutilation in Rural Minia, Egypt

Mohammed ES, Seedhom AE* and Mahfouz EM

Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Minia University, Egypt

*Corresponding author: Seedhom AE, Public Health and Preventive Medicine Department, Minia University, Minia 61111, Egypt

Received: December 26, 2016; Accepted: February 28, 2017; Published: March 02, 2017


Objectives: To assess the predictors of FGM, to measure and relate Gender Equity Score (GES) to FGM future intentions.

Methods: A cross-sectional community-based study. An interview administered questionnaire was used to explore knowledge and attitude of rural people, Minia and measure GES. A systematic random sample was taken from the village. 618 males and females were included in the period from September to October 2016.

Results: FGM was performed on 76.6% of females. Complications occurred in 35.6% of circumcised females. Nearly 62% of respondents believed that this practice should be continued. FGM proponents were mostly men than women (57.0% vs. 40.2%). 76.2% of rural dwellers had low GES, 23.8% had medium or high GES. There was a significant relation between GES, supporting attitude towards FGM (p=0.0001), Knowledge that FGM is harmful (p=0.02) and future intention to undergo to their daughters (p=0.0001).

Conclusion: The strong correlation between low GES, education, social pressure and intentions to carry out FGM to their daughters means that transmission of FGM will be perpetuated among future generations unless policies are formulated to break the vicious cycle of mother-daughter transmission, by educating and protecting girls and increasing importance of values as personal wellbeing and women empowerment.

Keywords: Female genital mutilation; Gender equity; Predictors; Egypt


FGM: Female Genital Mutilation; GES: Gender Equity Score; EHIS: Egyptian Health Issues Survey; EDHS: Egypt Demographic Health Survey


World bodies have defined gender equality in terms of human rights, especially women’s rights, and economic development [1]. UNICEF describes that gender equality “means that women and men”, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike [2].

The United Nations Population Fund stated that, “despite many international agreements affirming their human rights, women are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. They have less access to property ownership, credit, training and employment. They are far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence [3].

Thus, promoting gender equality is seen as an encouragement to greater economic prosperity. For example, nations of the Arab world that deny equality of opportunity to women were warned in a 2008 United Nations-sponsored report that this disempowerment is a critical factor crippling these nations’ return to the first rank of global leaders in commerce, learning, and culture [4].

A large and growing body of research has shown how gender inequality undermines health and development. To overcome gender inequality the United Nations Population Fund states that, “Women’s empowerment and gender equality” requires strategic interventions at all levels of programming and policy-making. These levels include reproductive health, economic empowerment, educational empowerment and political empowerment [5].

Female genital mutilation is mostly carried out on girls between the ages of 0 and 15 years. However, occasionally, adult and married women are also subjected to the procedure. The age at which female genital mutilation is performed varies with local traditions and circumstances, but is decreasing in some countries [6].

In every society in which it is practiced, female genital mutilation is a manifestation of gender inequality that is deeply entrenched in social, economic and political structures. Such practice has the effect of perpetuating normative gender roles that are unequal and harm women. Analysis of international health data shows a close link between women’s ability to exercise control over their lives and their belief that female genital mutilation should be ended [7].

Subjects and Methods

A cross-sectional community-based study was conducted to measure gender equity score and identify its association with FGM in a rural area in Minia governorate that was chosen randomly then a systematic random sample was taken from the village (the 1st house was chosen randomly then every 5th house).

The questionnaires were administered, face to face. The sample size was calculated using EP Info version 2000. A total of 578 male and female rural dwellers, aged >18 years were participated in this study.

The study was conducted in the period from October to December, 2016. A pilot study was performed on 50 persons and the questionnaire was further validated through a review panel process where each item was considered for appropriateness.

GES was used. The 2006 Victorian Survey identified that the strongest predictor for holding violence-supportive views about violence against women was an individual’s “gender equity score [17]. This gender equity score or GES was constructed by asking respondents a series of attitudinal statements about women and their role in society. As with the 2006 Victorian Survey, the 2009 National Survey asked participants to respond to the same series of attitudinal statements relating to gender equity adapted from [18]. Responses to these statements were based on a likert scale where 1 =“strongly agree’ and 5= “strongly disagree’. The questions were:

On the whole, men make better political leaders than women.

When jobs are scarce men should have more right to a job than women.

The gender equity scale and associated scores were calculated and summed to give a score out of 100. Participants were required to respond to eight statements on a scale of 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree).

The eight statements were summed to give the respondent a score out of 40. The score was then multiplied by 2.5 to give the respondent a score out of 100. The score out of 100 was then categorized as “high GES’ (>90), “medium GES’ (75–90) or “low GES’ (<75).

Those who scored closest to 100 gave answers to the statements which indicated they supported gender equity – women should not only have equal rights and opportunities but be treated fairly and justly in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men. Those who scored lower on the gender equity scale expressed views that indicated less support for women being treated equally and fairly [8].

Statistical analysis

The Statistical Program SPSS for windows version 20 had been used in data analysis. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.

Ethical considerations

The study protocol had been approved by the standard ethics of Minia University ethical committee for human studies. Interviews were held in strict privacy, mainly in the respondents’ homes, with no one able to overhear the conversation. The participants were informed about their possibility to withdraw at any point during the research phase and gave written informed consent to participate.


The study highlighted the key characteristics that either foster or discourage the continuation of the practice. A total of 618 rural dwellers were included in the present study with only 0.3% non response rate. Respondents’ average age was 31.8±14.6 years. 90.3% were moslems in religion and 67.6% were women. 342 (55.3%) were married (Table 1).