Sisa Abu Daooh has been living as a man for the past 42 years after her husband passed away in Egypt, The New York Times
reported March 25. Abu Daooh has worked for more than 30 years among the shoeshine men of Luxor. She sits with men in coffee shops, prays with them in the local mosque and dresses just as they do in pants or a traditional floor-length tunic known as a galabeya. Abu Daooh’s announcement was greeted not with condemnation but with curiosity and a flurry of mostly positive reactions from local news media and officials. Last week, Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, personally gave her an award for being an extraordinary mother. Abu Daooh, 64, said she began dressing as a man as a practical matter, to escape restrictions on women’s employment in a patriarchal culture and earn enough to support her daughter, Hoda.