Woman in the Workforce.

Advice, information and discussion about Egypt in general.

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Woman in the Workforce.

Post by Hafiz »

Woman in the Workforce.

I won’t do my usual by outraging those who see Egypt as the source of pure pleasure with my detailed ugly truth on this matter but merely refer to a detailed, recent, charming and sad article in the New Yorker which contains some good stories – often of driven women who have to suffer a lot and who were given chances by westerners. It’s a good rounded read. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-des ... ht-to-work

Key points:

1. A 2004 World Bank study estimated that, if women in the Middle East worked at the same rates as their peers in other parts of the world, average household income would rise by as much as twenty-five per cent, enough to push many families out of poverty. The Bank also estimated, however, that at the current rate of increase in female employment it would take the region a hundred and fifty years to catch up to the rest of the world.

2. Wifely submission (slavery) is even written into the Egyptian legal code. A woman who leaves the house or gets a job without her husband’s permission is considered nashiz—rebellious—and forfeits her right to his financial support.

3. Other obstacles stand in the way of women who want to work. Many women are reluctant to travel far from home on public transportation, out of fear of sexual harassment.

It’s really about the working conditions (harassment),” Ragui Assaad, an economist at the University of Minnesota who studies labor and development, told me. “If the working conditions are met, women are ready to work in droves. But, if they are not met, very few are willing to work.”

4. China and India have built dynamic manufacturing sectors that are dominated by female workers, but Egypt’s high-growth industries, which include oil, tourism, construction, and transportation, are mainly the province of men.

5. When Rania (the central character in the story and from near Minya) was twelve, her mother remarried, and Rania had to leave home because, by law, divorced women lose custody of their children if they marry again. Rania shuttled between the homes of several uncles; during her middle-school years, they didn’t allow her to attend school and made her work in their construction-materials warehouse. “They wanted to crush me,” Rania said.

6. Between 2004 and 2006, I (the journalist) spent time reporting among young women in Chinese factories. The operating procedure there is straightforward: bosses instruct and workers obey. The work at Delta, however, depended on a web of personal exchanges. Supervisors engaged in negotiations or called in favors to get tasks done; workers complied out of loyalty or refused from spite. The fainting spells, the shouting matches, the crying, the outpourings of emotion—these were the traditional tools that women used in domestic settings where they had little power, imported into a modern factory. Rania often said that the key to motivating workers was to win their love.

7. Her (Rania’s) assembly line for clothing worked two hours past closing time that evening—another negotiation, since supervisors could not order anyone to work overtime.

8. In the ancient world, Egypt was famous for the freedom of its women. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote, “Not only is the Egyptian climate peculiar to that country and the Nile different in behavior from other rivers, but the Egyptians themselves . . . exactly reverse the common practices of mankind. For example the women attend the markets and trade, while the men sit at home and weave.”

9. Recent scholarship shows a surprising degree of variation in how freely Muslim women lived in the past. The thirteenth-century theologian Ibn al-Hajj railed against women in Cairo who sunbathed on the banks of the Nile or chatted freely with men; in 1438, Sultan Barsbay issued an edict banning women from streets and markets. (It was revoked less than two weeks later.) In his book “Marriage, Money and Divorce in Medieval Islamic Society,” the historian Yossef Rapoport shows that many or most urban women in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries worked for wages, as peddlers, merchants, hairdressers, midwives, or textile-industry laborers. A British traveller to Cairo in the early nineteenth century was surprised to see women at Al-Azhar University, the leading religious institution in the Arab world. “Contrary to the ideas commonly prevailing in Europe,” he wrote, “a large portion of the votaries consisted of ladies, who were walking to and fro without the slightest restraints, conversing with each other, and mingling freely among the men.”

Its interesting that al Ahram, Egypt (Yes)Today and others rarely if ever have stories about ordinary women in the workforce. I wonder why.

The key to this story might be the failure of one woman to leave personal interests at home or the application by her of pre-modern Egyptian values on favors/debts/deference to the 20th century working system with the obvious negative effects. Put another way she can’t run a modern assembly line if she uses 16th century approaches. I suspect this 16th century/20th century contrast is true of most of Egyptian business/bureaucracy. What is interesting is that its not studied whereas Indian, Chinese and Indonesian management approaches and how to (at the extreme) merge traditional values with modern companies is well studied by some of the smartest people in the world so that these countries can develop better. In Egypt the study of management/management systems in universities is so retarded that not even a fully demented General could honestly say that its other than a complete waste of time. Whilst Egypt is a country with appalling management and some of the lowest unit labour productivity rates in the world there us not even the pretense to develop/educate people to try and improve that. Its like a driver of a car with a flat tyre who ignores the tyre and frets only about filling the petrol tank.

The factory referred to in the article in Minya, Delta Textile Factory, is Jewish/Israeli owned so, according to common practice, it should be burned down by the locals or stolen by the Junta.

Female opportunities in the emerging Egypt tech industry – a bit naïve. https://www.thecairoreview.com/tahrir-f ... omen/Woman in Silicon Valley who haven't been sexually assaulted (eg Uber and by its chief executive worth $US30 billion) would say that the industry provides few options for women.

Brief history of female employment in Egypt – doesn’t include women in agriculture still the dominant industry but about the only industry a century ago. https://egyptianstreets.com/2018/10/16/ ... ian-woman/

An academic economics paper. https://economics.stanford.edu/sites/g/ ... 5-4-17.pdf

A technical paper on the gender pay gap which ignores whether there is different pay for the same work – typical government CAPMAS sloppy work. http://iariw.org/egypt2015/amalkhairy.pdf

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