05-Apr-2014 01:51 PM

Written by: Journalist: Basma Elmahdy, Mentor in Aspire Woman Mentorship Program ...

While the Western world was busy with marriage equality in 2013, in the Egyptian society where I come from a woman is still defined by marriage and little else. You are either married, divorced, a future bride if you’re young (under 23), an old maid if you’re over 25, a mother to smart kids, or a wife to a successful doctor or lawyer.

Unfortunately, this attitude isn’t exclusive to the lower income or lesser educated classes, it is something we all share, with few exceptions.  The 21th century Egyptian society generally considers marriage a top priority for women, even for those single by choice. Being single around here isn’t something you can brag about, as you would when getting an engagement ring. It becomes a circus when girls compete about who would get married first, sometimes even between sisters. When, reluctant to join the ranks of conformity, you ask people “why should I be worried and get into this social party to be Mrs. Someone?”, here are the most common answers, offered by women and men in equal measure.

  You can’t be independent

A woman needs a man to spend money on her, and a man needs a woman to cook, take care of the house and clear up his mess.


   It is a duty you owe your family

Your dad and mom are looking forward to being grandparents ever since you were little, how long will they have to wait for their dream to come true?!


    The world is too messy to face it alone

When you get older you will realize what a cruel world we live in, so it is much better to be with someone who will be responsible for you, fighting every day for your enjoyment and survival.


    It is an achievement, if you don’t have any other

As a woman, you don’t need to spend your time on a career or a craft to feel accomplished, all that society asks of you in order to become a successful woman is to get a handsome guy who would achieve things for the both of you.


    The clock is ticking

You should run around like a headless chicken the moment you check your watch and realize that you are still single at 25 or 30, because your chances to find a guy to get you pregnant vanish.

Above were some of the told or untold reasons for why marring right now is a must for me and every other unwed woman out there. What no one tells us women or men is that one should marry only in one case: if you find someone who you love and respect, someone that reciprocates your feelings and expectations. As simple as it sounds, that isn’t something that happens by pushing a button.

I live in a culture that doesn’t praise taking the time to discover your personality and what your mission in life is. Thinking is almost a sin here. People usually see a single girl as an annoying person who reminds them that there is a time-out option for figuring out who I am and what I do in the world, and that I can wait till I become a good partner for a healthy relation.

Finally, here is my Arabic answer to why I might marry someday: to be with a man who respects my interests. To succeed with a man, not over him.

To create   good memories and share our legacy with our children.

Even if this won’t happen, even if I will not meet this guy, I will continue to live my life as I should: feeling free, doing well, and being loved.

I often hear this quote inside my head: “Every woman has an opportunity to fulfill a golden role in life, it is not simple but it is available, it is up to you.” The credit for this quote goes to a wonderful gentleman, Ali Faramawy.

So I believe that it is about me.