Egypt’s Cairo metro has hired the nation’s first female train drivers—a rarity in a nation where few women hold formal professions. According to the two trailblazers, commuters on the network’s newest line have noticed women taking the wheel in the driver’s cab since April. Some show disgust while others get shocked.
One of the first female conductors on the Cairo metro is Suzan Mohamed. “I have a mixed feeling between happiness and responsibility as I should transport thousands of passengers every day. It is a big responsibility, I am happy but afraid at the same time,” she said, according to AFP.
Hind Omar, a business graduate, and mother of two, claimed that she hurried to apply for a position as a train driver because she wanted to break new ground in a nation where only 14.3% of women are in formal employment.
The National Authority for Tunnels in Egypt, in collaboration with RATP-Dev, accepted two women for the training program, Omar being one of them.
The Cairo metro system was established in 1987, making it the oldest in the Arab world, although it has lagged behind other Arab nations in offering work options for women.
In 1999, Moroccan Saida Abad became the first woman to operate a train in both Africa and the Arab world.
Egyptian women have had the right to vote and to run for office since 1956, but patriarchal laws and a largely male culture have severely curtailed individual liberties. The Cairo Metro itself provides reserved carriages for people who prefer not to ride with men in order to protect ladies from sexual harassment.
Women’s rights are being undermined by factors such as unpaid caregiving, a lack of fair pay and employment stability, bad working conditions, and few opportunities to own land and inherit property. Women are unable to take charge of their lives and make a living.
Women have more power and independence over their life when they make their own money. They have access to healthcare, education, and land ownership. As a result, they have financial stability, can provide for their family, and can live their life as they like.
Women who are economically independent make greater contributions to their families, society, and economies at large. It has been demonstrated that women give their children extra money, paving the way for their development to be sustainable. This step taken by the Egyptian authorities is a bold and necessary step in the right direction.