The house feels emptier. Duties gradually become less. Kids are suddenly more capable of handling their own lives. Pretty normal. You’ve given your all to prepare them for the moment they start relying on themselves, but haven’t really given much thought to how you’d be after they do.
This is the case for plenty of Egyptian housewives who dedicate their lives to their families and postpone their entry to the job market, only to find it harder to join later. Experiencing this herself, the hardworking, mother-of-two, Abeer El Deif, decided to launch Hawaa (Arabic for Eve) After 40, to support women above forty, and ease their way to the job market.
“I graduated in 1990, and started looking for jobs in 2004, working on myself using courses, moving from company to another. But in 2012, I found companies rejecting me just because of my age. I was shocked,” Abeer says. Despite her eight-year experience with part-time and full-time jobs to meet her family’s needs and commitments, companies would tell her they found someone younger.
“I’d ask them for feedback after the interview. One of the companies was run by youth, and they told me: we won’t know how to deal with your age in the workplace,” Abeer adds. But she was later told that it may be that older age tends to mean a higher salary.
Accordingly, Hawaa After 40 aims to help women who have stayed away from the employment market for a while, or even intend to shift their careers, to return smoothly, through both workshops and connections to different companies. The workshops cater to individual preferences that a woman needs for her intended field such as voice-over and make-up sessions, as well as some more generic workshops about how to stay alert, strengthen the memory, and life coaching.
Abeer classifies women who return to the job market into two types: the ones who need work financially, and the ones who need it psychologically. “We’ll develop her in whichever field, but she has to feel like she’s of importance. Some women suffer psychologically from staying at home. They contact us saying, we want to do anything. We want to feel like anybody needs us,” she adds.
But why the age of forty in specific? Abeer explains that it’s a problematic age for the market. “If she’s a female, they say her personal problems will affect her efficiency. Her psychological well-being is going to affect her as well. She’s old-fashioned, and so on,” she states.
And for excluding men from the organization, Abeer clarifies that men get jobs easier because everyone else helps them, it’s the norm. But rarely does she find those encouraging females as much.
Not only did Hawaa After 40 create a heartwarming community between the women involved, it also made its incredible founder, Abeer, more persistent to continue her journey. “Even when I got sick and had to stay in bed, all that I was thinking about was work and getting back up. I feel like they’re my daughters, even if some of them are older than me. I want them to succeed and reach places,” she adds.
The participants are now above 400, and they’re still open for more. Check out their online application through their Instagram and Facebook pages: Hawaa After 40. For those who cannot afford the fees, they have a policy for allowing a ratio for free.