This Egyptian woman chose to disguise as a man for 43 years; Know why
While it seems unbelievable an Egyptian woman has lived as a man for around 43 years. She not only changed her apparels but also changed her voice not to get recognized as a woman.
Sisa Abu Daooh has been dressing as a man for several years in order to find work after her husband died. She needed the job to earn bread and butter for herself and for her kid. But why did she had to disguise as a man to find work is no mystery as gender discrimination has always remained a hot topic for debate.
In a world where many societies have made it difficult for women to enjoy the same work opportunities as their male counterparts, Egypt was no less orthodox. Egyptian society expected their women to stay at home tending to the family. However, Sisa had to be brave enough to defy society and create her own reality. She was a young and single mother who had to sacrifice her femininity in order to provide livelihood to her daughter, Huda.
Sisa got married at the age of 16 and bear her 1st child at the age of 21. She was only six months pregnant when she lost her husband. Being a young pregnant widow from a less privileged conservative Egyptian family, she was not allowed opportunities to give her child a better life. Especially in a patriarchal society like Luxor, where woman were not allowed to be the breadwinner, she had to endure constant pressure from her brothers to get re-married.
Therefore, Daooh was forced to dress as a man to hide her gender identity, in order to get jobs like several manual labor work which earned her less than a dollar a day. It was the early 70s, which made the woman hide herself within manly clothes and masculine voice. However, 43 years later, Sisa found her identity back when she met Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, in March 2015, to receive a motherhood award.
Despite her achievement, the 65-year-old refuses to give up living living as a man.
In those times, women were not only prohibited from working but also taken aback from getting proper education. Although she lacked the education for an office job, Sisa chose another way of finding employment, i.e. by taking on a male identity.
She shaved her head and wore loose-fitting male robes, how most men at that time looked like. She took on daily labor jobs like making bricks and harvesting wheat. It was later in her life when she stopped on a less physically demanding work as shoe-shiner.
Reportedly, she grew enjoying working as a man. It allowed her to go about her business without threat of rampant sexual harassment, and perform roles that were previously off limits. She never hid her real identity as a mother and people called her Umm Hoda/Hoda’s mum, a common form of addressing in the Middle East. Yet, people saw her as a male due to her attire and the way she took on the labors.
Eventually, after a long struggling life she was finally honored by the Egyptian government as ‘best mum.’