Does Individual Social Change Occur? The Case of Female Genital Cutting in Egypt

Hilary Barker , Brown University

In Egypt, over 90% of women ages 15-49 have undergone female genital cutting (FGC), though currently, less mothers are choosing FGC for their daughters. This paper aims to examine what is driving the decline. Using the 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Surveys, I determine whether age, socioeconomic characteristics, or external influences best predict whether a mother circumcises her daughters. Next, I estimate the likelihood of a mother who circumcised her first daughter to not circumcise a subsequent daughter. The study finds that poor, less educated women who discuss FGC with friends and family and do not use the internet are most likely to circumcise their daughters. Next, only 8% of mothers with one daughter circumcised do not circumcise a later daughter. Wealthy women are the most likely to abandon FGC. We assume that the decline comes primarily from mothers who choose to not practice FGC with their first daughter.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions