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  • She Says

Egypt honors woman who pretended to be a man for 40 Years to feed her family

  • IWB Post
  •  March 24, 2015


For almost 43 years, Egyptian Sisa Abu Daooh dressed herself as a man to provide food to her family. Last week, this 65 yr old was awarded the “woman breadwinner” award by the Egyptian president. She has received a prize of about $6,500.Abu Daooh was pregnant with her daughter when her husband passed away. Considering the circumstances, she had to take the lead and become the breadwinner for her family. She disguised as a man because the traditional Egyptian society has less job options for women, especially illiterate women.

She remembers: “When a woman lets go of her femininity, it’s hard. But I would do anything for my daughter. It was the only way to make money. What else could I do? I can’t read or write, my family didn’t send me to school, so this was the only way.”

She shaved her head and wore loose-fitting male robes to earn money. She took up jobs in brick making and shoe shining. She started wearing men’s clothes in order to avoid all the harassment she would face at her workplaces.

But why didn’t she remarry? She says: “My brothers wanted me to get married again. All the time they kept bringing new grooms to me. But I could never find the right person.”

Bravo to this woman for not letting any social stereotype, taboo or personal obstacle stop her from winning in life. She won the battle on her own terms and there is nothing wrong in that.

Abu tells: “I have decided to die in these clothes. I’ve got used to it. It’s my whole life and I can’t leave it now.”

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