Tuesday 16 January 2018 saw the opening of the “Crossing Egypt Challenge”, an initiative by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The initiative, which aims to raise awareness on Egypt’s population growth, is financially supported by the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo.
“Crossing Egypt Challenge” is a journey of 24 days across 938.3km from Aswan to Cairo, covered on foot by four young athletes who walk and run this distance. In the process, they engaging in discussions with Egypt’s young people on the challenges and solutions for increased population growth. The focus of the discussion is family planning, youth activism, and combating the harmful practices of female genital mutilation and early marriage in towns and villages in Egypt. The young female and male athletes are driven by the notion that ‘impossible is not an option’, and that the population growth challenge in Egypt can be addressed when citizens are well informed and can decide on their reproductive health and preferred family size.
The initiative builds on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s national efforts to empower Egyptian youth to grow to their fullest potential. The president’s participation at the first annual World Youth Forum and the marathon alongside 3,000 young people in Sharm al-Sheikh, spurred the idea of the “Crossing Egypt Challenge”. The young women and men athletes participating cross nine governorates, starting with Aswan in the south and moving northward through Luxor, Qena, Sohag, Assiut, Minya, Beni Sueif, Giza, till Cairo. The daily marathon lasts for 24 days.
The campaign features unique partnership with the private sector, including Fitness Pro, Polar, Sprint Activewear and Advanced Sports Nutrition.
The marathon events are accompanied with several relevant outreach events and activities in cooperation with Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Y-PEER Network in Egypt. This includes 18 awareness-raising activities with a focus on six thematic interactive edutainment activities in nine Youth Centres. There are educational treasure hunts for interactive activity among the local community, also runner teams.
Egypt’s population has witnessed a dramatic increase during the last decade and now stands at 94.8 million people compared to 72 million in 2006. With 62 per cent of its population below age of 29, the country is reaching the peak of the ‘youth bulge’, the largest cohort of young people in its history. This can translate into serious challenges or opportunities, depending on the investments made in this group.
22 January 2018