It doesn’t matter how lucky, talented, successful or accomplished a woman is. The fact remains that her family, and society as a whole, will always expect certain things from her. Women in Egypt suffer every single time they go to a wedding, funeral, or any other gathering where extended family will be present. It is almost as if despite any of a woman’s accomplishment, society won’t acknowledge her worth until she gets married. It is 2016 and we still define a woman’s worth by her marital status, and it happens to everyone. We spoke to some sexy, successful women to find out what they really have to say about that.
Dina is a perfect example of someone who followed their heart, and weren’t disappointed with where it took them. After years of being a successful as a Sales Manager at Harley-Davidson Egypt, she left her work there! Much to everyone’s bafflement, she did that to paint, “I left my job and took a course in NYC to refresh my art. So people already think I’m a little different”, she says. Dina’s life choices might be considered strange by old-fashioned terms, but she fully embraces that and is happy with where she is, “maybe I am different because I’m not wasting my time waiting for marriage and doing what I love instead”, she tells. As for when she gets asked those non-stop questions, she knows how to handle it, “I got used to it. Sometimes you answer the question out of courtesy, that’s how I deal with it”, she tells. When the question arises, she changes the topic to something she actually enjoys, “yes, I’ll change up my bike and start a new gallery!” is her regular response.
“Women in Egypt suffer every single time they go to a wedding, funeral, or any other gathering where extended family will be present.”
Aisha’s photography has become very popular and has granted her a name in Egypt’s lineup of talented photographers. When confronted with snooping questions of that sort, her response is usually along the lines of, “you can start being happy right now, I’m doing well!” The main culprits in Aisha’s case are family members, “I’m used to it, and they have kind of given up”, she tells. This is the case with her extended family, though, her mother is a different story, “I’m free as a bird, that’s what my mother calls me. It’s funny because she wants to see me get married, but she’s happy that I’m free as a bird”, she tells.
In a few years, Deana managed to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. Her effortlessly elegant designs and unique cuts are telltale signs that this is a Deana Shaaban design. Still, she does find herself facing these prying questions sometimes, “our culture is very marriage based. It’s a cultural frame of reference. In their minds when they say that they mean to be flattering”, she explains, “initially my defenses go up, but I have to be understanding because they’re being kind to me”. For Deana, there is more to life than what society dictates, “the fact that our lives have to be a certain way for us to feel accomplished is completely unfair to people. The goal in our lives should be to find something that we love doing”, she tells. And for someone who has accomplished so much, she knows she doesn’t need to conform, “I don’t feel like I need to wait to have a man or a child in my life to feel accomplished. I don’t know if everyone needs to be married and I think every individual is different”, she concludes.
Hala El Sharouny
Hala El Sharouny is a talented painter, being an artist doesn’t stop the comments, though, “I was at my cousin’s wedding and I was told ‘you too should be like her’ and I said ‘tante, don’t you have another daughter? Focus on getting her married’”, she tells. Hala’s witty responses are unstoppable, “if you want to pray that I’d have something, pray that I would open an art gallery in Paris”, is a line she uses frequently. Hala’s talent is her pride and joy, “I’m proud that I have an energy granted to me by God. This is my message; it is bigger than me. Even if I get a job I won’t stop painting.”
Passainte managed to find a job that suits her hobby; how lucky is that? The Online Marketer and Content Manager at Travelstart is a traveler herself. She has a set list of responses that she always uses in those situations, “you’re already happy! Do you need more reasons to be happy for me?” is one of the things she always says. Passainte knows her own accomplishments. As well as the fact that there is much more to life, “what I always want to say is ‘isn’t there more to life than marriage to be happy about? Like being successful, changing society, or making people happy’”, she says. At the end of the day, Passainte is grateful, “I love giving myself a challenge and achieving it, there’s a lot to be happy about that is not marriage”, she tells, “of course, marriage and children are something we all want; it’s a goal, but it’s not my only goal”.
Yusra’s career in writing has been a successful one, with her book It’s All in My Head published in 2011, as well as her work as a Writer and Content Marketing Consultant at Lojine Consulting. She has encountered her fair share of annoying questions and has been responding the same way for a while, “I smile and say nothing, because I learned that no matter what response you give, they will never be satisfied”, she tells. There are, however, some responses she wishes she can say, but never would, “Stop asking me why I’m still single; I don’t ask you how you’re still married!” being one of them. At the end of the day, Yusra doesn’t define her happiness with her marital status, “I’m happy about so many things in my life that counting them would be impossible. Mostly, I am simply content with life as it is”, she says.
“It is almost as if despite any of a woman’s accomplishment, society won’t acknowledge her worth until she gets married. It is 2016 and we still define a woman’s worth by her marital status.”
An Operations Director at Media & More, Yasmin’s career has been on the rise since she first started out in this field. Not only armed with her successful work, but also her quick wit, she has a set of creative responses, “why would you think that something like me being single would change overnight?” being one of the many comebacks she has. To Yasmin, the strangest part is when these questions come from outside her family, “I once got asked by a client about when I’ll get married, saying that life is about more than just work. Another client got me a 3arees”, she laughs. Yasmin has a full life where she gets to go out and travel, “I don’t have to do all of this with a husband, I don’t need a chaperon”, she tells.
Pakinam is an inspiration for all multitaskers out there. She is an award-winning investigative journalist. She is now the deputy Editor in Chief of science magazine Nature Middle East, while simultaneously running the style blog Fashion Outcasts with her sister on Instagram. Her approach to those questions is different, often not responding to them, “I would joke about it, and maybe turn around the question on the person”, she says. This attitude of hers has resulted in her not receiving such questions, “if you lead a certain lifestyle it will force people to look at you in a different way”, she tells, “it’s not about dodging the question, it’s living in a certain way that people see you marching to the beat of a different drummer, so they’re forced to respect that”.