On the cusp of celebrating her 20th year as a UNICEF Ambassador, actor and activist Alyssa Milano traveled to Egypt with UNICEF USA to witness girls’ empowerment and education programming firsthand.

Alyssa Milano traveled to Egypt with UNICEF USA to witness girls' empowerment and education programming
Alyssa Milano traveled to Egypt with UNICEF USA to witness girls' empowerment and education programming

The visit allowed Milano to learn from UNICEF experts, partners, children and their families about UNICEF’s relentless work to create a more equitable world for every child.

In Fayoum Governate, Milano visited a Civic Education Center in Shakshook Village where she learned about Dawwie, the first National Girls’ Empowerment Initiative which UNICEF developed under the leadership of the National Council for Women and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood. Dawwie means a “loud voice with an impact” and was designed to provide a safe space to engage adolescent girls and boys in activities that help them recognize and reach their full potential, while fostering engagement from their families and communities. To date, over 250,000 girls, boys, parents and community members have engaged with Dawwie face to face. Milano took part in Dawwie circles, where she learned from young women about the challenges they face in regard to climate, violence, access to education and bodily autonomy.

“In my twenty years of being a UNICEF Ambassador, I have had the profound privilege of traveling with the organization and seeing remarkable programming that creates tangible, sustainable impact for children,” said Milano. “The Dawwie program is hands down the most innovative work that I have seen and if you believe, as I do, that every girl has the ability to create cataclysmic change in their communities and around the world, I implore you to support this program.”

Milano traveled to 6th of October City in Cairo where she visited a UNICEF-supported Early Childhood Service Center focused on caring for children aged six months to six years. At the center, Milano learned that only eight percent of children below the age of four have access to nurseries. Most nurseries in Egypt are only open until 2:30pm which does not allow the caretaker, typically the mother, to work outside of the home. The Rawdat Al Ahbab Center for Early Childhood Development Services remains open until 5pm, empowering mothers to pursue other opportunities during the day, in addition to providing a space for young children to have agency and access to quality education.

Milano also visited the Al-Haram Learning Hub in Cairo, a space that allows children to access digital learning and community-building activities, while strengthening peer relationships. Milano witnessed the UNICEF-supported Learning Passport, which enables teaching and learning through localized curriculum and is accessible online. The program has reached over 16,500 children in Egypt, including the engagement of 6,300 refugee children who are able to continue their education and learning from their country of origin.

“I believe education is the key that unlocks someone’s full potential. I was inspired to see the Learning Passport program first-hand, engaging young and adolescent children and enabling their continued education, despite often monumental challenges,” said Milano. “The inviting space and encouraging teen leaders foster critical peer connection. By sharing similar experiences and interests, children and teens are able to connect on a personal level while continuing to learn in their native language and curriculum.”

Milano has worked with UNICEF USA since early 2003. In addition to Egypt she has traveled to Angola, Kosovo and India in her role as UNICEF Ambassador. As an Ambassador, Milano uses her platform to advocate for UNICEF’s mission of relentlessly pursuing a more equitable world for every child.

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