Egyptian single mother who spent 43 years living as a man to work and provide for her daughter honoured as the 'ideal mother'

Sisa Abu Daooh was left without an income when her husband died

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An Egyptian single mother who spent 43 years living as a man in order to work and provide for her daughter has reportedly been honoured as the “ideal mother” in Cairo.

Sisa Abu Daooh, 64, received the “woman breadwinner” award from the Social Solidarity Directorate of Luxor for working so hard to provide for her family, Al Arabiya reports.

Ms Abu Daooh was left without an income when her husband died while she was pregnant. The newspaper reports that her situation was made more difficult by the fact that working as a woman was frowned upon in her community in Luxor.

Faced with a lifetime of begging on the streets, she disguised herself as a man by wearing loose, full length robes and took on manual jobs making bricks, working in construction and polishing shoes. 

“I preferred working in hard labour like lifting bricks and cement bags and cleaning shoes to begging in the streets in order to earn a living for myself and for my daughter and her children,” she said.

“So as to protect myself from men and the harshness of their looks and being targeted by them due to traditions, I decided to be a man … and dressed in their clothes and worked alongside them in other villages where no one knows me.”

Her daughter Houda went on to marry a man who later fell ill and was unable to work, leaving Ms Abu Daooh once again responsible for the family. She now works mostly polishing shoes, which she says earns her a “decent income”.

Houda praised her mother for providing for the family and said she still gets up at 6am every morning to go to work.

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