Ambassador Moushira Khattab

Former Egyptian Ambassador toSouth Africa and to the Czech and Slovak Republics; former Minister of Family and Population, Egypt

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Ambassador Moushira Khattab's Story

Ambassador Moushira Mahmoud Khattab, Ph.D is an Egyptian human rights activist, former politician & diplomat. She is the former Minister of Family & Population of Egypt, Former Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of Egypt to the Republic of South Africa, the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well serving in Egypt’s diplomatic missions in Australia, Hungary, Austria and the United Nations (New York and Vienna). She is also a human rights activist advocating the rights of children and women and the former Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child based at the UN Headquarters in Geneva.

Moushira Khattab holds a PHD on the rights of the child from Cairo University, an M.A. in International Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and a B.A. Political Science from Cairo University, Faculty of Economics and Political Science.

A career diplomat serving as Egypt’s first Ambassador To Nelson Mandela’s South Africa and before it Czechoslovakia during its peaceful separation to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Khattab ended her diplomatic career as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cultural Relations.

In 1999, Moushira Khattab shifted to the sphere of defending Women and Children’s rights as Secretary General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM). The success of NCCM was crowned by its transformation into the Ministry of Family and Population and the appointment of Moushira Khattab as Minister. Since 1999, she has engineered a paradigm shift in the respect, protection, promotion & monitoring the implementation of the rights of women and children in Egypt. Ambassador Khattab coordinated national efforts targeting the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against children with special emphasis on girls. Combatting gender based violence including female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are some of the achievements engineered by Moushira Khattab with heavy involvement of civil society. This was brought about through a number of interventions including the Girl’s Education Initiative, providing quality active learning to poorer and marginalized girls; adolescents’ reproductive rights and combatting child labor and child abuse and neglect. She initiated, led and coordinated a national movement to support the most comprehensive rights based legal reform for children; crowned by the adoption of Law 126 in 2008 bringing Child Law in closer harmony with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The amended law criminalized trafficking in children, FGM, and most forms of violence and discrimination. It raised the minimum age for criminal responsibility from 7 to 12 years establishing a new system of child protection including a restorative juvenile justice system. As a Muslim woman she played an instrumental role in bringing Muslim countries together to support the global movement for the rights of children and women and adopting a human rights approach. A highlight of such efforts is the conference she organized in Cairo in 2009 in cooperation with the Organisation of Islamic States on Islamic Shariaa and the rights of the Child.

Khattab coordinated, in close collaboration with civil society, the formulation of key national policy documents including national strategies for the protection, rehabilitation and reintegration of street children, the elimination of Child Labor, and combatting violence against children. Key action plans were formulated including that on Girls’ Education, and Combatting Violence against Children, an “Egypt Fit for Children”, Rights Based Tracking of Public Budgeting for Children (for the first time ever in Egypt), and the National Survey on Street Children.

From March 2009 until February 2011 Khattab served as Minister of State for Family and Population of Egypt. She also holds the position of Vice-President of the International Bureau for Children’s Rights “IBCR”. Khattab represents the MENA Region on the Board of Child Helpline International and Chairs both the National Committee & the steering Committee of Middle East & North Africa on Violence against Children. Khattab served as Vice Chair, Rapporteur and member of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2002–2010. She is also a member in several associations such as the Women Leadership Council to combat trafficking in persons including children, UNGIFT- Vienna 2008. She Chaired the ad hoc UN intergovernmental expert group that formulated the UN Guidelines on Justice Matters related to children victims and witnesses to Crime adopted by ECOSOC in 2005. Moushira Khattab is Vice president of “Aflatoun Child Savings International” (Amsterdam) and is a regular lecturer on children’s rights to police officers, judges, women organizations and the media.

Since obtaining her doctorate degree and retiring from diplomatic and public life, Ambassador Khattab has been a regular contributor to several renowned academic and research institutions worldwide. In addition to a brief university teaching experience at home in Egypt, Dr Khattab has been a visiting professor at Wellesley College in Switzerland, University of Foreigners in Perugia (Italy) on gender and human issues as well as conducting research and delivering a number of lectures at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, which she has also represented at a number of conferences across Europe.

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