Egyptian mother lived as a man for 43 years to save family from poverty

A widowed Egyptian mother has been given a ‘woman breadwinner’ award for her efforts to provide for her daughter Houda and grandchildren following her husband’s death.

She sits with men in coffee shops, prays with them in the local mosque and dresses just as they do in pants or a traditional floor-length tunic known as a galabeya. Her name is Sisa Abu Daooh, and many believed she was a man until several weeks ago, when she publicly revealed her 42-year-old secret.

A large part of the reason her story has been so widely accepted by Egyptians is that there is no suggestion that her choice of clothing had anything to do with sexuality issues. Nevertheless, her story has demonstrated how many in Egypt are “pushing at the limits of traditional gender roles,” said Scott Long, a human-rights activist living in Cairo.

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