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.

Marwa Sharafeldin
10 December 2012

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.


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