From 2008 to 2010, WISE collaborated with a local partner organization dedicated to raising awareness about discrimination against women, in an effort to reduce the number of FGC cases in the Dair El Nahia region of Giza, Egypt. WISE worked with the partner organization to create a replicable program that promoted the elimination of FGC through religious training sessions and financial incentives for FGC practitioners to stop performing the procedure. The project to eliminate FGC as a common cultural practice was implemented in two phases.
In phase one, the project team identified two common practitioners of FGC, a barber and a midwife—Amin and Zeinab, respectively—who were receptive to participating in pilot projects. The provision of religious and monetary incentives was coupled with several supplementary conditions. These included ensuring the practitioners’ personal and business hygiene, workplace sanitation, religious observation, and routine communication with clients about FGC’s negative effects and lack of religious mandate. Lastly, a strong record of no longer performing FGC was required; otherwise monetary stipends allocated to FGC practitioners had to be repaid.
The results of these two pilot projects confirmed the feasibility and effectiveness of combining religious education and income replacement strategies in eliminating the practice of FGC in Egypt’s slum areas. The economic status of FGC practitioners represented a key challenge, as it was a major impediment to the cessation of these procedures. For this reason, offering income replacement for a sufficient period of time for FGC practitioners to begin or extend other income-generating activities and obtain comparable income levels was essential. This strategy gave the practitioners the economic security to abandon the practice of FGC.
In addition, providing the practitioners with religious training in the form of accurate scriptural interpretation and guidance on conveying messages to clients and others was crucial for terminating FGC practices. The religious training, which included an affiliation with a respected teacher and a certificate from the well-respected Al-Azhar University confirming that FGC is un-Islamic, gave the practitioners the religious authority to stop the practice themselves and advocate for its cessation throughout their communities.
In phase two of the program, WISE and the local partner extended the 2010 project for another year in order to target two remaining practitioners of FGC in Dair El Nahia, Giza: Faiza, a former midwife, and Magdi, another barber. Faiza had been conducting 180 FGC procedures per year for thirteen years prior to participating in the project, while Magdi had been conducting an estimated 120 FGC procedures for the past five years.
After the success of the pilot programs, additional advocacy seminars and educational sessions on FGC for Dair El Nahia residents were planned, and incentives were offered to families who agreed not to allow their daughters to undergo the practice. As with the pilot programs, phase two of the project entailed the provision of economic support with income replacement strategies (temporary salary, training, and material resources) so that practitioners would not lose their economic livelihood after they ceased practicing FGC. Educational support through religious training was implemented in order to demonstrate that FGC is not religiously mandated. Lastly, accurate health and social information about the practice was administered.
 Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality prefers to use the more sensitive term Female Genital Cutting instead of Female Genital Mutilation out of respect for the millions of women and girls around the world who have undergone the procedure and live with its consequences.
In phase one the program effectively reduced the rate of FGC in the Dair El Nahia region of Giza, Egypt:
Phase two of the program targeted two additional FGC practitioners in Dair El Nahia, Giza: