In the words of Nora Nabil: "I also learned about harmful traditions and have rejected them"


Story originally published on UN Women Egypt' website.

“Previously, I used to be extremely strict with my daughters – the same way my parents had raised me. Out of fear and care, our girls are not allowed the freedom to choose, nor travel alone even in neighbouring villages – to the extent that girls may miss out educational opportunities due to the associated risks they may face on the way to and from college. Girls are not allowed to mingle with people or men outside their family circles, which often ends in them marrying a close relative rather than an outsider at a very young age.

Photo of Nora Nabil
Photo of Nora Nabil in her village at Minya Governorate. Photo: UN Women/Nada Ismail

Now that I have experienced the world and become more aware and open-minded, I would rather build trust with my girls and help them have the same opportunities I avail to my two sons. I can still worry more about them but without letting that be a barrier to their dreams or accomplishments. I also learned about harmful traditions that impact myself and my daughters’ health and have rejected them. My relationship with my children has changed completely and has become so much better. Through the programme, I learned how to send and receive messages quietly, and how to bargain to reach a middle ground rather than end up in a fight.

In brief, to be soft on people and tough on the topic – which was for me a technique I had never been trained on. I, myself, have become a whole new person. I used to know nothing about the world outside my home and I couldn’t even hold a conversation with strangers. Now that I have my own shop, I deal with different suppliers and vendors (mostly men) outside my close circle and I succeed in managing the business.

Being in a tough industry like the retail business isn’t easy. But struggling to survive really paid off. My shop has created a new stream of income and helped me gain my own money. Thankfully, I managed to buy a semi-automatic washing machine, a water cooler, as well as a stove with an oven. I can also now afford to take my children out for their birthdays and create happy memories they can cherish the rest of their lives.

I have learned that being knowledgeable and aware of the world around you is important and it shapes your life. Holding onto the traditional thoughts we were raised with is not always the right thing to do. We should always keep learning, developing and exploring because that is what will shape our future and secure a better life for our children, and mainly our daughters.”