Writer: Lobna Wassim
Being a woman and having actual rights differs from one country to the other in the Middle East, for instance in Lebanon a woman might have more privileges than in Saudi Arabia. When speaking of women in Egypt specifically, being a woman is a challenge between wanting to prove herself in the society, balance between work, and acting in a way that fits with the ideology of the society.
There are many challenges that affects being a woman in Egypt, most importantly the societal pressure she has to deal with in terms of acting in a respectable manner, in order to avoid being judged, focusing on getting married before its too late.
A woman’s greatest milestone in Egypt is the date she puts the ring on her finger, and that’s what most of the society even parents highly give importance to and recognize “of course there are many families that still give respect and importance to a woman’s career and education” but in terms of majority such things are of high priority.
Parents often invest a lot of money in their daughter’s education, but the minute she gets graduates and gets married she can easily stop pursuing her career.
What I find truly twisted is that what society encourages women to get married, while leaving the upper hand to men when it comes to marriage?
In a society that praises women towards certain things and neglects other things, one will find young women giving importance to hitting the knot instead of focusing on themselves, making that a cultural dilemma.
There are certainly many women that have challenged that point of view and decided to pursue their career, while having a family, others have decided to devote their lives to working and move out of their parent’s homes which is still unacceptable by most Egyptians.
It is sad fact since women contribute to the labor force more than men in Egypt, and are still not earning the respect they deserve.
Such thinking as said by most of the people is related to Islam, and that a woman must be obligated to follow the Islamic rules which gives more rights to men, but that is not true.
Islam has given a lot of rights to women, in terms of working being independent, and getting married “which does not come with an expiration date”, in fact Islam has balanced between men and women.
Which concludes that what the society ought to think is a mix between the true meaning of religion, and cultural beliefs
A woman in Egypt, and many other countries ought to be viewed as the weaker, and most vulnerable citizen which makes her more likely to be attacked, harassed, and judged.
Instead of earning the respect she deserves a woman find herself stuck between wanting to please herself, and on the other hand wanting to please her family and the society.
Therefore, being a woman in the Middle East in general is a big challenge, between what can be done right and what can be done wrong. It is a tough challenge between following her mind, and being herself.