Caught between two worlds of social transition and modern progression, young women in the Middle East have for some time been forging means to balance conventional gender roles and marriage expectations, while also advancing their position in society through improved legal status, health and educational attainment. Yet, with half of Egypt’s university-educated women out of the labour market and not seeking work, this study reveals why middle-class women continue to pursue a degree that they fail to use. This book sheds light onto the lives of highly educated middle-class Egyptian women, where they share their stories of spouse selection and marriage, and how education, wealth and unyielding gender roles influence their employment status. Through qualitative ethnography, Negotiating Marriage, Family and Work gives voice to young Egyptian women, both married and single, presenting their self-perceptions, their roles as mothers and wives, and their agency. Carried out from the time of the Arab Spring, this research uncovers the key strategies that middle-class women employ to secure their economic well-being in their marital and domestic contexts, as well as the barriers that married women face in combining paid work and family care.
Table of Contents
1. A Situation Analysis of Egyptian Women
2. Marriage and Spouse Selection
3. The Significance of Being a University Graduate
4. Daily Practices of Domestic Labour
5. The Barriers to Women’s Paid Work
Dahlia Tawhid Roque holds a PhD in Gender Studies from Monash University, Australia, and an MA in Middle East Studies from The American University in Cairo. Her research activities relate to employment, development and gender in the Middle East and North Africa, and she advises intergovernmental organisations on programme and policy development supporting women and youth employment.