(The Guardian) 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, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, 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. Click here to read more.