Young Egyptian Women Do Not Want to Work!

While some women are still struggling to prove themselves in the workplace, the young generation of Egyptian men and women seems to be taking a different route.

Fantasia was watching an episode of El Beyoot Asrar (Homes have Secrets) where they were talking about women and whether they should work or not.

There were two groups of people on the show; the invited guests, which were men and women in their late 40's and 50's, and the audience, which were mainly younger people. Some were college students and others looked like they were in their early 20's. I do not recall the exact words of every person on the show; however, the older people were all pro work. The women all talked about their experiences in life, how their careers helped them, and how their husbands supported them. They talked about their children. More than once they were asked if their careers compromised the care for their children, and they all answered that the children were not compromised. Until here, it all sounds fine and dandy. You would think that since the older generations think this way, the younger generations will definitely be more open minded, and women will be more career oriented.

When the younger generation of men and women got a chance to express how they felt about the topic, Fantasia was highly disappointed:

A young man, possibly in his early 20's stated that he will not allow his wife to work … no matter what. He believed a woman's place is her home and nothing more. Another young man said “I will give my wife a chance to work and see if she can work, take care of the children alone, and take care of the house alone …( and get this)….. and take care of ME!!!! ( is he 2 or something?? does she need to change his diapers as well??) Then I will “ALLOW” her to work.” However if she fails in any way, or if he feels that she is not up to par …. then he will “FORBID” her getting a job or having a career!!!! Much to my dismay and utter disappointment his sentiments were echoed by several male audience member.

The Female audience members let me down even more. ALL and I repeat ALL the women in the audience (whom I will add that judging from their appearance were in their early 20's) stated that their “DREAM” was to get married and sit at home. No one. I repeat NO ONE mentioned the desire for having a career. Success was nothing they referred to or thought of in any way. They were all college graduates who “chose” to throw away their degree forever!! A couple mentioned they would like to work until they meet the right man. So for them work was a way of “catching” a husband! When these girls were asked about their ambition, their comment was very similar to the young men; they all agreed that women have no ambition, that a woman's ambition should be to cook and clean and care for children. They agreed that a woman's career ambition is a “myth” that the western media tries to brainwash women into believing!!!

Fantasia voiced her frustration saying:

The way I look at things is that our country needs every ounce of work and energy available to help us rise out of this economic and social depression. The concept of a woman working should be a no brainer… The subject has been discussed over and over for more than 120 years… and women have been working since our grandparents came of age in the 40's and the 50's. It is unusual for a society to fall back so much, and for women to lose so much in such a short time. What Egyptian women have worked so hard for is slowly being yanked out from under their feet… and they are totally oblivious. The amount of brainwashing that has happened in our culture over the past 20 years is astounding!! The mystery to me is how do you oppress people while at the same time convincing them that oppression was their idea in the first place… so they think that their oppression is liberation??? I know it sounds confusing but we are living examples of this twisted logic.

Fantasia also explained that she is not against stay at home moms but…

But if all women suddenly decide to stay at home, it is no longer a selfless act, it is actually turned into a very selfish act. Let me explain why:

1- For starters… Children only need their mothers in the first few years of life. After the age of 4, all kids go to school, so really a mother sitting at home isn't doing much for the child.
For working mothers in Egypt, The Egyptian government has done a lot. A very generous law that does not exist everywhere is the “child care leave”. A working woman in Egypt by law can take up to 5 YEARS off of work.

2- Men argue that they need a wife to “take care” of them. Unless the man is incapacitated or handicapped in some way, no adult responsible working man needs a woman to take care of him. Men are taught from a young age that they should not lift a finger to care for their house; they should not clean, they should not cook and all of this ” dirty work” is beneath them.

3- Men argue that if a man can afford to care for the house financially, a woman doesn't HAVE to work. This is actually one of the most annoying arguments. Women in Egypt cost the government thousands of pounds to get a college education, so if a woman chooses not to work she should pay back this money so another person can use it to be educated and benefit society. If this money is used by the ministry of education to fund research in labs wouldn't it be better spent? So this is my argument: if you don't want to use it, then don't take it!!!

4- People argue that women are crowding men and pushing them out of work. To this claim, I would like to respond that not all women have someone who supports them. To men who feel that women are overcrowding them I say, please don't be short sighted. Do not underestimate the value of the woman who works in the neighboring office as she may be doing more for her family than any man could. Women in the work place need to be acknowledged, respected and appreciated. They do not “overcrowd” and their value in the workplace is not any less than their male colleagues.

5- People argue that there aren't enough jobs for everybody… so women need to sit at home, and let the men work, so every family will have at least one income!! To this claim I would like to say that even though there aren't enough sources of income for work for everyone, however, there is so much work that needs to be done that no one is doing. The one concept that we rarely ever hear of in Egypt is volunteering.

Fantasia ends her post on a very motivating note saying:

So to say that women should stay at home is selfish, and is something that is said by people who only think of themselves. Our country needs us, we are the driving force behind the progress of our nation. We all need to work together,. Whining about corruption or where money went will not help us. Working together will. I am not saying that corruption is not a factor, but I am saying Corruption has become the excuse for everything wrong with our lives. There is so much more we can do to make Egypt better…. we just need to try!


  • Ssdly, this is an opinion something I hear from a lotta UK muslim girls too. I come from a large and liberal extended Muslim family, where girls have all the freedom they desire, yet they now seem to be content to outsource their aspirations to men.

    The previous generation of Muslim women here in Britain aspired to careers and a work ethic, fighting to open opportunities for themselves and others.

    Sadly, the current generation seems to feel that a rich or successful husband should be their aspiration, even when they’re educated, liberal and outgoing.

    I think this is an attitude not simply restricted to Islamic communuties in Britain…there’s a rising apathy amongst most Brits…

  • For some reason people seem to be under the impression now that if you take women out of the workplace and off the streets then there will no longer be any :

    -Sexual offences
    -Juvenille delinquencies

    As if women are the reason for the appalling standard of university graduates in Egypt. As if seeing a woman on her way to work or at work will suddenly dehumanize men and turn them into wild animals with overwhelming sexual impulses. And as if the presence of the mother at home 24/7 is a sure gaurantee that children will grow up safe, sound , well-behaved and rational. Strange how nobody talks about the absence of the father figure from the Egyptian family, slaving away in a foriegn country just to act as a bank for his family after emotional ties start to wither due to distance and the effect that it has on the behavior of the children.
    It’s also funny how we refuse to look at how the most advanced and advancing countries in the world have welcomed women into various fields (even if they still face varying degrees of sexism). It’s also amusing how we choose Islam as an explanation for this all when Islam doesn’t really have anything to do with how narrow-minded and backward thinking we’ve become.
    Other countries are thinking about how to advance themselves in every possible way and we’re thinking how to “put women back in there rightful place”.

  • Hani Michel

    During the past years, I was disappointed in many of my students.
    Most of them have the dream to marry and stay at home. Many can leave the university if this ” chance ” came before finishing study…
    What really hurts that they are high achievers and in distinct faculties .
    I feel that my work and effort are lost in vain

  • Ahmed Ali

    Well I think its their choice anyway & they’re free
    but really some other points caught my eye I’d love to discuss

    3-Men argue that if a man can afford to care for the house financially, a woman doesn’t HAVE to work. This is actually one of the most annoying arguments. Women in Egypt cost the government thousands of pounds to get a college education,
    thats because nobody can work marry or have a life without college education thanks to the 1 system of life that cant be modified
    4- People argue that women are crowding men and pushing them out of work. To this claim, I would like to respond that not all women have someone who supports them. To men who feel that women are overcrowding them I say
    thats due to our culture & religion that men must support the house financially not women (which I do believe) but that doesnt mean women shouldnt work

  • […] Voices Online discusses divorce and women working in […]

  • Shaimaa

    I’m sorry, but i see that this is their choice. And i’m sure this choice is based on some logic in their minds. (and i am talking mainly about the girls here)As and example, may be she saw that her mother worked hard yet she didn’t achieve any of her younger days dreams. And experience she saw in her life for a women working could have failed, that’s why she sees that there is no use from working. To Ahmed Ali, our religion doesn’t say that a man should be the one making money”the bank in the house” and the woman shouldn’t, or must not work. EL Sayeda Khadiga was a merchiant after all. she just let her husband PBUH manage her work, that’s all. It’s our culture that dictates that a man is a man and he should be the one working.
    In the end, most women that work in Egypt, are treated badly by their husbands, the man works, but keeps his earning for himself, while she works and has to pay for everything to keep the household standing. this is the main problem, not that women doesn’t want to work

  • Ahmed Ali

    Hey just a second Shaimaa
    I didnt say that women dont work at all
    on the contrary women should work as we need every effort these days
    I was just explaining y men think like that
    because their religion ordered them 2 spend 2 keep the household standing
    & also the same religion gave the women all freedom 2 use her money 2 spend on the household or take 4 themselves
    really no comment on those men u said in the end
    even the word men is an honor they dont deserve

  • Ahmed Ali

    Oh sorry i just 4got 2 say 1 thing
    I do believe that men should do that but I dont approve the way of thinking of men when they say that women crowden their job oppurtunities

  • badre

    I think the men in Egypt are narrow mined and they are unsecured. Thats why they want their wives to stay at home and say YES to everything what they say. The women are also accepting it like dum. still they are in the bottom of the wel and havent seen the world. You sould see the UAE women.. they do respectable work and at the same time they maintain their islamic values and house wife role. The husbands are also respecting it. this is what you call intelligence. They are open minded.

  • Anav

    The assumption is that women who get a degree are meant only for the workforce. In any country, education should be valued for all, including mothers who stay at home with kids. Education should only be forced by government as long as it is paid by government.

    An educated mother will teach and bring forth educated children so perhaps home ec should be a voluntary major; as long as the general requirements are included such as algebra, geography and biology, just to make it all fair;)

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