The authors declare they have no competing interests.
RVR, DM and AG conceived of the idea. RVR performed the analyses and wrote the initial draft of the paper. All three authors restructured and rewrote the manuscript, and read and approved the final manuscript.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is still widespread in Egyptian society. It is strongly entrenched in local tradition and culture and has a strong link to the position of women. To eradicate the practice a major attitudinal change is a required for which an improvement in the social position of women is a prerequisite. This study examines the relationship between Egyptian women’s social positions and their attitudes towards FGM, and investigates whether the spread of anti-FGM attitudes is related to the observed improvements in the position of women over time.
Changes in attitudes towards FGM are tracked using data from the Egypt Demographic and Health Surveys from 1995 to 2014. Multilevel logistic regressions are used to estimate 1) the effects of indicators of a woman’s social position on her attitude towards FGM, and 2) whether these effects change over time.
Literate, better educated and employed women are more likely to oppose FGM. Initially growing opposition to FGM was related to the expansion of women’s education, but lately opposition to FGM also seems to have spread to other segments of Egyptian society.
The improvement of women’s social position has certainly contributed to the spread of anti-FGM attitudes in Egyptian society. Better educated and less traditional women were at the heart of this change, and formed the basis from where anti-FGM sentiment has spread over wider segments of Egyptian society.