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Cablegate: Nomination of Ambassador Moushira Khattab for The

VZCZCXYZ0011
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #3127/01 2980956
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250956Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7286

UNCLAS CAIRO 003127

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/IWI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO KWMN EG
SUBJECT: NOMINATION OF AMBASSADOR MOUSHIRA KHATTAB FOR THE
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE AWARD

REF: STATE 126072

1. Ambassador Moushira Khattab, Embassy Cairo's nominee for
the Secretary's International Woman of Courage award,
deserves USG commendation for having formed and led a broad
alliance to combat female genital mutilation (FGM) in Egypt.
Since the beginning of her tenure as Secretary General of the
National Council on Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) in 1999,
Ambassador Khattab has pursued an agenda of progressive
reform in Egyptian family law. Recently Ambassador Khattab
recruited religious leaders and other important stakeholders
to address the highly charged and sensitive issue of FGM.
Thanks to Ambassador Khattab, both the Egyptian government
and society have begun to take concrete and specific steps to
eradicate a practice that has long inflicted pain and
suffering on the great majority of Egyptian women.

2. FGM is a long-standing custom in Egypt. Government
statistics indicate that 97 percent of ever married women
aged 15 to 49 -- Christians and Muslims alike -- have
undergone FGM. Practitioners frequently conduct the
operation without anesthetic, using knives or razors. The
procedure can lead to death through shock from pain or
bleeding. Failure to use sterile instruments may lead to
infections. Egypt has the highest rate of Hepatitis C in the
world; many girls are infected as a result of FGM procedures.
Other complications include urinary and reproductive
infections, scarring that causes difficulty during
childbirth, and infertility, and a host of other urinary and
reproductive tract problems. Experts estimate that 70 percent
of female infertility rates in Egypt are the result of FGM
complications. FGM, rooted in obscure traditional practice,
harms Egyptian women both physically and mentally.

3. Ambassador Khattab has worked with vigor and passion to
combat FGM. She is one of Egypt's most outspoken and
inspirational leaders lobbying for the rights of women and
children. In her role as the head of the NCCM, she has
considerable influence with policy makers and commands
admiration and respect from grassroots women activists for
her leadership, commitment, vision, and courage. Working
closely with First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, she has enlisted the
assistance of the Minister of Health to lead a nationwide
effort to eradicate FGM. The NCCM, working with the MOH, has
also enlisted top Egyptian religious leaders, including the
Coptic Orthodox Pope, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, and the Grand
Mufti, to launch an ambitious public awareness campaign, to
spread the message to the Egyptian people that there is no
basis for FGM in Christianity or Islam.

4. Ambassador Khattab has also led the effort to bring the
NCCM message to rural Egypt. Under her leadership, NCCM
trainers go to villages throughout the country. Working at
the community level, volunteers educate citizens on the
medical risks and lack of religious basis for FGM. After
extensive community dialogue, NCCM volunteers obtain pledges
from village mothers and fathers that they will not subject
their daughters to FGM.

5. The impact in Egypt has been extraordinary. The Ministry
of Health (MOH) has banned FGM, once an endemic human rights
problem, and prohibited medical personnel and clinics from
any involvement in the procedure. MOH inspectors, for the
first time, are closing clinics involved in the banned
practice. Parliament is expected to consider a new law
making FGM illegal when it reconvenes late in 2007. Thanks
to Ambassador Khattab's leadership, the media has also
focused on the violence of FGM procedures, with ordinary
citizens re-examining and rejecting the practice. As the New
York Times noted in a recent story, Ambassador Khattab and
the NCCM are leaders of "one of the most powerful social
movements in Egypt in decades, uniting an unlikely alliance
of government forces, official religious leaders and
street-level activists," in an effort to transform Egyptian
society and improve the lives of girls and women.

6. Notwithstanding the clear benefits of Ambassador
Khattab's campaign, there are still some reactionary voices
in Egypt who oppose it. These voices charge the anti-FGM
movement of being a tool of the West and of disrespecting
ancient customs. Ambassador Khattab's courageous response
has been to confront these critics with facts and move
forward with increased passion and determination. In
addition to fighting FGM, the NCCM focuses on several other
important issues that face women in Egypt such as greater
access to education for girls. Ambassador Khattab is the
primary author of a national plan of action to improve girls'
education, and NCCM works closely with NGO's to ensure that
successive generations of Egyptian women receive the skill
sets they need for a flourishing future. Finally, she is
leading a fight against child labor and protecting the rights

of often neglected street children.

7. With her campaign against FGM well-launched, Ambassador
Khattab--who also represents Egypt on the UN Committee for
the Protection of the Child--has now embarked on a new
campaign to improve Egypt's legal protections for children.
The NCCM has authored new legislation to protect children
against trafficking, prostitution, and other exploitation.
The Egyptian parliament is expected to consider the new child
protection law late in 2007. Its passage will mark another
major advance for the expansion of human rights in Egypt.

8. With admiration and respect for Ambassador Khattab's
tireless leadership in the fight against FGM in Egypt and for
her efforts to protecting children, in Egypt and around the
world, Embassy Cairo is pleased to nominate Ambassador
Moushira Khattab as a Woman of Courage.

9. Biodata for Ambassador Khattab, per para 12 of reftel:

Full legal name: Moushira Khattab

Job title/association: Secretary General/National Council
for Childhood and Motherhood

DOB: N/A (o/a 1950)

Country of Birth: Egypt

Citizenship: Egypt

Address: NCCM, Corniche El-Nil, National Population Council
Building, Maadi, Cairo

Telephone number: 20-2524-0277

e-mail: rola toghby@yahoo.com (personal assistant)

Passport number: N/A

Per reftel instructtions, Ambassador Khattab has confirmed
that she is honored to be nominated for this award.
RICCIARDONE

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