When it comes to earning a living and feeding one’s family, most people would stop at nothing to ensure they can do that.
However, an Egyptian woman has to take the prize for the most determined of all, having lived her life disguised as a man for 43 years in order to work and provide for her daughter.
So impressed with the woman, Sisa Abu Daooh, was the Luxor governorate in Egypt, that they honored her, dubbing her the “ideal mother.”
The now 64-year-old woman lost her husband while she was pregnant, and following the birth of her daughter needed a way to provide for her.
Due to the local culture in Egypt, which generally opposes women in the workplace, Abu Daooh was forced to dress like a man and earn a living for daughter Houda.
As well as polishing shoes and making bricks, Daooh engaged in many other trades, wearing a traditional male “jilbab,” which is a full-length robe with large sleeves, as well as donning a large turban and men’s shoes.
As Daooh told reporters,
“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. 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.”
For the time being, Daooh is earning a comfortable living polishing shoes, while her daughter couldn’t be prouder of her, “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,” said Houda.