Sexual abuse, being underestimated, domestic violence, discrimination and overall sexism are struggles that every Egyptian woman has faced and dealt with at some point in her life. Who knew that representing ourselves and holding our own at the Olympics was what it took to regain some of our respect as Egyptian women?
Sara Samir’s bronze medal win in weightlifting was the triggering spark. Afterwards, Hedaya Malak Wahba’s bronze medal win in Taekwondo in women’s 57 kg event, got her chosen as the Egyptian flag-bearer in the Rio2016 Olympic Games’ closing ceremony! Hedaya has now become the fuel to Sara’s beautiful spark, and a raging fire of success for Egyptian females was set ablaze.
“Hedaya has now become the fuel to Sara’s beautiful spark, and a raging fire of success for Egyptian females was set ablaze”
For those constantly putting down and underestimating women, two of the three Egyptian Olympic medalists were women. For those that hold the belief that the Islamic veil is some sort of chain that prevents a woman from achieving her dreams freely, both female medalists were veiled. And for those who ever doubted that women are tough, or assumed that females are incapable of delving into physical sports, both medalists won in games widely believed – in Egypt at least – to be mainly for men: weightlifting and taekwondo. These two women defeated societal classifications and stereotypes on so many levels, and we couldn’t be more proud.
“For those that hold the belief that the Islamic veil is some sort of chain that prevents a woman from achieving her dreams freely, both female medalists were veiled”
After Hedaya’s win, men and women alike took to Social Media, holding her up in high regards. And for the first time in a long time we began seeing respect, value and genuine appreciation given to the Egyptian woman. The burdens of society on us as women was lifted – even if just for one day.
In late 2013, Hedaya Tweeted saying “Can I just be a superwoman? Or have a few copies of myself to be anywhere I want at the same time?”
Right after her win, Egyptian men took to Social Media commenting on this Twitter post and tagging Hedaya’s Twitter account, congratulating her for becoming that Superwoman she wanted to become 3 years ago:
“The entire nation stayed up late for your sake and will sleep happy because of you. Congratulations Hedaya, you made us happy and you honored us you most beautiful Superwoman in the country”
All those who represented Egypt at the Olympics – men and women alike – made us extremely proud. However, the wins of Sara and Hedaya resonated within us, as individuals and as a society, on a much deeper level. In a nutshell, here is one of the responses to Hedaya’s win that perfectly concludes what we now feel