An Egyptian woman who disguised herself as a man for 43 years in order to make a living for her daughter after the death of her husband was honored Tuesday by the government as the “ideal mother” of Luxor governorate.
The Social Solidarity Directorate of Luxor said it was awarding the “woman breadwinner” award to Sisa Abu Daooh for her years of hard work providing for her daughter and her grandchildren.
The 64-year-old Abu Daooh lost her husband while she was pregnant and after giving birth, she found herself without an income.Her situation was complicated by a local culture opposed to women in the work place, which forced her to dress as a man and work outside the home to support her baby daughter Houda.
She worked making bricks and polishing shoes in the street among other jobs. Eventually, she married off her daughter to a man who later fell ill and couldn’t work. So, being a resourceful woman, Abu Daooh kept up her work as the breadwinner of herfamily.
She donned a local “jilbab” – a loose, full-length robe with wide sleeves – as well as a white turban, or sometimes a men’s hat known as a “Taqiyah” and black masculine shoes.
“I preferred working in hard labor like lifting bricks and cement bags and cleaning shoes to begging in the streets in order to earn a living for myself and for my daughter and her children,” she said
“So as to protect myself from men and the harshness of their looks and being targeted by them due to traditions, I decided to be a man … and dressed in their clothes and worked alongside them in other villages where no one knows me.”
She added that she worked in an array of jobs, from “polishing shoes, to construction to agriculture.”
At the moment, Abu Daooh says she is polishing shoes, which earns her a “decent income.”
Her daughter Houda said: “my mom is the one who still provides for the family. She wakes up every day at 6 a.m. to start polishing shoes at the station in Luxor. I carry the work kits for her as she now advanced in age.”
Abu Daooh gave thanks to those who had helped her along the way.
“Thanks to everyone who has helped me. I hope to see Egypt in a better situation.”