Egypt’s First Female Marriage Official Amal Soliman is the first woman to work as a marriage official (Ma’zoun) in Egypt and the Arab world. Facing many obstacles and controversy Amal Soliman reached her goal through persistence being a female in a male profession.
Amal Soliman is married with children and holds a Master in Law and Criminology in a small village in El Sharkeya. “The idea of being a marriage official came when my husband’s uncle, who used to be a marriage official, died and my husband thought I could fill his position” she explains, “my husband provided me with all the encouragement and support needed and was always there for me as he saw that I’m qualified by my masters and education. He is totally fine with the job like any husband with a working wife”.
Do you think that our male-dominated society is ready to accept females working in these sectors?
Yes. I think there is a positive change in regards to women in public service and speaking of my case, a marriage official usually is exposed to a large cross section of society.
“Some people thought it’s prohibited for a female marriage official to sit male company forgetting that there is a bride sitting within the group.”
You were a victim of conspiracy theories at court; did you feel like giving up at that time?
In some of the court sessions, lots of offending phrases were spread and I’ve heard some like “she’s only seeking being on TV”, “the whole thing is to keep society focusing on other issues rather than political ones” and I felt those women who created the fuss in court were hired by competing candidates to annoy me and make me step out. But the idea challenged me more and I’ll die trying.
Why do you think the idea of a female marriage official was unwelcomed?
People who were against the fact were against the whole idea of women going to work and have an independent career. They believe that a female is incapable of accomplishing anything on her own. Some people thought it’s prohibited for a female marriage official to sit male company forgetting that there is a bride sitting within the group. I’m only doing my job as long as I’m not wearing revealing clothes everything is fine.
“The idea challenged me more and I’ll die trying.”
Which organizations supported you?
Media in general helped me a lot as it was a public opinion case for a long time. I’d like to highlight the role played by the Women Association for Promotion and Development headed by Eman Bibars as she spoke positively about my case on Nile News Channel. She even sent me two lawyers from the association to support me and stand by my side during the stage of facing the Ministry of Justice as well as the National Women’s Council.
What you can achieve a male marriage official can’t?
There are some issues a wife is totally embarrassed to discuss with a male marriage official like her periods and the “3eda” months (3 month separation period before the divorce to determine e pregnancy) and if it’s still okay to get back to her husband in certain situations. It is often easier for them to talk to me about issues like these than to a male counterpart.
For a divorce the marriage official tends to talk with the couple, so as a female marriage official what do you say to the woman filing for divorce?
First of all I ask her about the reasons behind getting divorced and see if those reasons are necessary enough to end a marriage and I also ask her if she is knows exactly what she wants to reach and if divorce would lead her there or not. The definition of marriage isn’t just a love life between two people; marriage is family, home, and a sequence of sacrifices. You wish to see other “First Females in…”? A female governor. Women tend to take good care of their homes, keeping them clean and tidy is a girl’s thing so if a woman could handle the whole thing outdoor Egypt would look different.