Egypt’s 2021 Family Health Survey indicated that nearly 18% of women aged 20–24 years had married or were engaged before turning 18. This brief explores the perspectives of adolescent girls, their families, and key stakeholders on the role of men in the decision-making process pertaining to child marriage. The study took place in Assiut and Sohag in Upper Egypt selected on the basis of the high prevalence of child marriage. Results confirm that, in line with the patriarchal norms that underlie most marriage decisions in rural Upper Egypt, fathers/male guardians are the primary decision-makers regarding when a girl gets married and to whom. Poverty and fear about the girl’s reputation push fathers to marry off their underage daughters while misconceptions about masculinity along with inequitable gender norms drive men to seek child brides to ensure their subordination. Lack of financial, cognitive, and social capital undermine girls’ negotiating power and push them to accept marriage at an early age. In some instances girls can mobilize support from other family members and stop an early or unwanted marriage from happening. Recommendations are suggested to curb child marriage in rural Upper Egypt.
Abou Hussein, Salma, Reham Abou El-Fadl, Sally Radwan, and Nahla G. Abdel-Tawab. 2023. “Exploring the role of men in child marriage decision-making in rural Upper Egypt,” research brief. Cairo: Population Council.
Adolescent Girls’ Program in Upper Egypt