My pick for the week: Gulf News: Egyptian woman who lived as man for 40 years to support daughter wins award from president

Just another day at work; skimming through countless news portals to identify potential topics, media engagement opportunities and understand industry trends for my clients and I come across this article. My heart filled up with warmth and couldn’t help the cheesy grin stapled across my face, but most of all, feeling proud and thankful to have such a considerate ruler/president for a change.

I have all the respect in this world for this woman, who would go to such measures in order to care for and provide for her family. “Limits exist only in the mind.”

This article was published on Gulf News. Click here to view the article:


Image Credit: AFP

Sisa Abu Daooh receives the motherhood award from Egypt’s president, Abdul Fattah Al Sissi.

Cairo: Sisa Abu Daooh is Egypt’s matriarch of the moment, after being named by officials in her home town of Luxor as the city’s most supportive mother. Which may come as a surprise: for she is Luxor’s “best mum” by virtue of having worked and dressed for more than 40 years as a man.

Abu Daooh, 65, met Egypt’s president, Abdul Fattah Al Sissi , on Sunday to receive an award. She said she was not going to stop living as a man.“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.”It was a life she began in the 1970s when her husband died. She was six months pregnant with their first child. These days, at least one in seven Egyptian breadwinners is a woman, but 40 years ago, her conservative family did not consider it appropriate for her to work.“My brothers wanted me to get married again,” she says. “All the time they kept bringing new grooms to me.” The suitors weren’t for her. But according to her siblings, neither was a working life: labouring jobs were closed to women, and she lacked the education for an office job.So to the fury of her family, Abu Daooh chose another way of finding employment: she took on a male identity. She shaved her head, wore loose-fitting male robes and made bricks and harvested wheat. Initially as “strong as 10 men”, by her account, she later took to shoe-shining once her strength began to fade.“When a woman lets go of her femininity, it’s hard,” she said. “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 grew to enjoy working as a man, she said. It allowed her to go about her business without threat of rampant sexual harassment, and to perform roles that were previously off limits. “I was happy,” she said. “I was able to work men’s work, and all the people around me were happy with it. When men looked at me they looked at me as a man.”All this meant she could also socialise as man, noted Mena Melad, the editor-owner of the Luxor Times.

“She’d sit in the coffee shop with the men, and passers-by wouldn’t notice. She was one of them.” Many people realized she was female, calling her Umm Hoda, or Hoda’s mum – a common form of address in the Middle East.“I never hid it,” she remembers. “I wasn’t trying to keep it a secret.” Gradually her renown grew, to the extent that she now claims “the whole city of Luxor knows I’m a woman, from the smallest kid to the biggest man”.

Eventually, this fame paid dividends. This year, the local government in Luxor named her the city’s most devoted mum – documented on a certificate she cannot read – and gave her a kiosk to help support her income.Even now she has a family to support; her daughter’s husband cannot work through illness, so she helps put food on the table for the grandchildren. As gruelling as this makes her life, she would not want to see Hoda make the same sacrifice she did more than four decades ago. “Of course not,” says Abu Daooh. “She has a husband and kids.”


2015 – Keep doing what you do best!

Oh God – looking at my last date post is a terrible thing – I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that so much time has passed and I’ve done so little on here. Yes – I feel guilty for not giving my blog some major TLC. I mean, it’s 2015 – the chance to start fresh, list down all these resolutions that I want to accomplish by this year, live the dream and get all psyched up about my new beginning. Hell – I didn’t even make the time to list them, so chances are I won’t even be able to achieve them.

My point is – and I think so many mothers and fathers out there will agree – we’re literally kicking butt by making it through every single day with all the other responsibilities that life throws our way. We should all give ourselves a huge pat on the back, maybe treat ourselves to some fatty Hershey Pie for making it this far, going through each day like a fighter and being amazing parents. So to all those who are in my shoes; who feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, from juggling a dzillion things from managing to make a career and a living, to changing diapers and folding through endless piles of laundry – you are doing an awesome job. WE are doing an awesome job. Lets keep doing it the way know best and don’t bother by anything or anyone else.


The Pacifier Review_AnanIbrahim_TPR_MOM_2015

Juhayna Cheers Mothers – one of the best campaign’s I’ve seen so far!

We all saw and loved the P&G #ْThankyouMom ads around the Olympic Games and the video of the world’s toughest job interview which went viral and was shared on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But not a lot of people, at least outside of Egypt, paid attention or gave credit to this ad campaign by Juhayna (or maybe they have and I am mistaken)

This is the first time that I’ve seen an ad campaign for mother’s executed so well in Egypt, or any other Arab country for that matter and I feel its worth sharing.

The campaign takes you through every mother’s journey, with all its ups and downs, challenges and pitfalls and the indescribable joy that come with being a mother.

Watch the video, enjoy and share your comments!