Mother of Mohamed and Maria, Daughters of Mrs Baheya (Egypt)

A poem by Marwa Sharafeldin. Part of a series of poems by African feminist writers for 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence.


Read this poem in Arabic.

  • Who alone is carrying the responsibility of her five kids
  • Struggling for a contented morsel of bread
  • Who works and studies, and doesn't even ask me about her meagre salary
  • Who takes the bus every day and tries to stay away from all these vile harassing hands
  • Who is carrying the whole country upon her shoulders in the ministry, the company, the home and the street...and in all matters personal and discreet
  • Tell them who you are, tell them: I’m strong and invincible
  • I know how to be tough, but I also know how to be tender
  • Children of my country I carry you in my eyes, girls and boys, men and women
  • But do I have to always act docile to be called an Eastern woman
  • Do I always have to say yes to be recognized as a true Egyptian woman?
  • Work and travel and leadership positions I occupy
  • And we’re still saying: it must be a woman badly driving that car!
  • Trousers or skirts, as if the difference matters
  • Please be quiet and let the girls’ better school grades tear you to tatters!
  • I have a live thinking brain, and an able working hand, so beware of it!
  • Inside the house or outside of it, my work takes strength, patience and intelligence
  • I am just like you, son of my country, I work and tire and yearn for love
  • My family, my country and those I love sit comfortably cross-legged in my heart
  • You and I stand beside each other, helping to once again build our beautiful country
  • But if you dare tell me: be quiet, sit down, obey what I’m telling you woman!
  • I’ll quietly, yet smugly, tell you: see you soon then my little apprentice
  • In the world wide halls of the international courts of justice...

 

Read other articles in the series, 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2012.

 

About the author

Marwa Sharafeldin is an Egyptian women’s rights activist committed to removing the boundaries between the political, the social, the artistic and the radical. She is a board member of Musawah, the international movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family. Marwa is a co-founder of the Network of Women's Rights Organizations in Egypt and several other women’s rights organizations in Egypt. She is completing her doctorate in Law at the University of Oxford.

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