The past few decades have seen significant changes for women's reproductive health in Egypt, due in large part to a recent government program to improve women's and children's health. Still, marriage and motherhood remain key components of the identity of Egyptian women.

In Egyptian Arabic, girls (bint) become known as women (sitt) only when they have sex following their marriage ceremony; unmarried women are known as “girls” their whole lives. The Arabic phrase umm-il ghayyib, mother of the missing one, refers to infertile women.

The family is a basic part of Egyptian life. Mothers often nurse their children for at least two years and depend upon mothers or mothers-in-law for childcare. Children usually live at home until their marriages, even when they are well into adulthood. Egyptian ...

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