You are here

Crossing Egypt Challenge A Marathon a Day Raising awareness on population growth


Cairo, 16 January 2018, today marks the opening of Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s campaign “Crossing Egypt Challenge”. The campaign that aims to raise awareness on Egypt’s population growth is financial supported by the Norwegian Embassy. “Crossing Egypt Challenge” is a journey of 24 days and 938.3 KM that will be covered on foot from Aswan to Cairo by four young athletes who will be walking and running this distance while engaging in discussion with youth of Egypt on challenges and solutions for increased population growth, including family planning, youth participation, combating all harmful practices of female genital mutilation and early marriage in the cities and villages along the Nile. Young female and male athletes  and youth  will be driven by the notion that impossible is not an option, and population growth challenge in Egypt can be addressed when citizens are informed about it and can decide on their reproductive health, their preferred family size and act to combat all forms of violence against girls .

This initiative is also building on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s national efforts to empower Egyptian youth to thrive 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 El Sheikh, according to the president, sent a “message of peace to the world”.  Along those lines, UNFPA and the Ministry of Youth and Sports are launching a pioneer sports for development initiative with four young athletes crossing the Nile from Aswan to Cairo. These extraordinary young women and men will cross through 9 governorates (Aswan, Luxor, Qena, Sohag, Assiut, Menya, Beni Suef, Giza and Cairo) on a daily marathon for 24 days.

The campaign features also unique partnership with a private sector, including Fitness Pro, Polar, Sprint Activewear and Advanced Sports Nutrition, who all came together to support this initiative.

The marathon events will be accompanied with several associated outreach events and activities in cooperation with Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Y-PEER Network in Egypt. This will include 18 awareness raising activities with a focus on six thematic interactive edutainment activities in 9 different Youth Centers. The Ministry of Youth and Sports and Y-PEER trainers will be conducting educational “treasure hunt” games as interactive activity for the local community in each of the participating youth centers. Meanwhile, the Sports Section in the Ministry of Youth and Sports will coordinate with athletes at the 9 governorate and Physical Education Universities to form teams to run with the four runners one day at each of the 9 governorates.

Egypt’s population witnessed dramatic increase during the last decade and is estimated at 94.8 million people compared to a total of 72 million people in 2006. With 62 percent 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. Especially that investing in young women who face tremendous inequalities that result in disparities in education, protection, employment, access to services, including sexual and reproductive health services and public participation is crucial. Investment in young Egyptian is essential to turn the “youth bulge” into a demographic dividend.

To have a successful implementation of the sustainable development agenda 2030, especially goal number 3 and 5, sport plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts. UNFPA aims to leverage the opportunities provided by the 2030 Agenda to promote reproductive health including family planning within multiple platforms, including through coordination and partnerships.

In his remarks, Dr. Aleksandar Sasha Bodiroza, UNFPA Representative in Egypt concluded: “We need leadership of the Government of Egypt and its Ministry of Youth and Sports to mobilize young people in the communities to change the norms around the size of the family and invest in the well-being of adolescents and youth, and particularly adolescent girls that will unleash a demographic dividend of inclusive, sustainable economic growth in Egypt. UNFPA will be there as a valuable partner to help. Only together we can make a long lasting difference and help achieve Egypt’s Vision 2030. The Government, civil society, communities, young people, religious leaders, private sector, public figures, celebrities, UN, donors… Because it isn’t that what it’s really all about -- to go further together than we could alone. It’s a spirit of hope and spirit of possibility. About prosperous Egypt we all envision for 2030”   

For a closer insight on the campaign milestones and activities, we encourage you to follow our social media accounts:

Facebook: UNFPA Egypt