The Protection of Young Women and Girls in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA)

Authored by: Plan International

Categories: Global Public Health, Human Rights, Peace Support Operations, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Access to Justice and Rule of Law, Democratization and Political Participation, Economic Participation, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2020
Citation: "The Protection of Young Women and Girls in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA)." Plan International. December 2020.

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Executive Summary

Women and girls in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are among the most vulnerable populations in the world. The region ranks lowest on the Global Gender Index (GGI) scoring minimally on indicators on health, education, economic, and political participation. The context is precarious for young women and impedes girls’ full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms. With one in three women in MENA having experienced or at risk of experiencing physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime, Gender-based violence (GBV) is the most common rights violation experienced by women and girls in the region.

Driven by the ambition to advance children’s rights and the equality of girls in countries in the MENA region, Plan international is concerned that within this policy and rights activism environment, adolescent girls and young women in MENA are facing multiple threats to their protection, each contributing to exacerbating the other; exposure to weak legal and policy protections, limited access to protection services, and persistent cultural and social barriers.

To review the protection afforded to girls and women, this analysis focused on 5 countries in MENA:- Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Despite the level of conflict and instability in the country, the displacement of Syrian refugee women and girls into countries in the region warrants its inclusion in this analysis.

Due to limitations in literature and actions focused on the protection of adolescent girls and young women in MENA, this report extrapolates conclusions from the experiences of women rights activists, civil society groups and rights-based agencies coupled with a review of available literature to evaluate the policy and legal environment, nature of girls and women rights movements, as well as the level of civil society freedom in the region.