The official railway carrier in Egypt, Cairo Metro, has announced the employment of its first women train drivers. The announcement has been greatly welcomed across the globe, although many citizens still disapprove of the move.
Egypt plans to create a sustainable plan to effectively mobilize its over 102.3 million population. Among other things, this has made the train authorities employ female drivers.
Since the newest line of the Cairo Metro introduced the female drivers, reports claim that the drivers say commuted have greeted the new development with surprising reactions ranging from raised eyebrows to outright disapproval.
Speaking to newsmen on the matter, one of the first female conductors on the Cairo Metro network, Suzan Mohamed, was quoted as saying:
“I have a mixed feeling between happiness and responsibility as I should transport thousands of passengers every day. It is a big responsibility, I am happy but afraid at the same time,” she said.
Hind Omar, who is a graduate of Business Administration and a mother of two, said she had rushed to apply to be a train driver, eager to be a pioneer in a country where only 14.3 percent of women are in formal employment, according to 2020 figures.
Omar was one of two women accepted for the training programme run by Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels in cooperation with RATP-Dev.
“You should have emotional stability and pass all the tests, they put you under pressure in the tests to see your stamina and stability. It is a very sensitive job and needs specific requirements.”
The Cairo Metro was launched in 1987, it is the oldest in the Arab world, but it has fallen behind other Arab countries in providing employment opportunities for women.
You will recall that Moroccan Saida Abad is on record to be the first female train driver in Africa and the Arab world. She achieved the somewhat unattainable feat for women in 1999.
According to Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAMPAS), the total number of employed people in Egypt reached 29.9 million in the Q2 of 2022; the number of employed males is 24.8 million, compared to 5.1 million females.
Unlike in many other cases, Omar acknowledged that she had been lucky to have the support of her family.
“My parents found it strange at first but they ended up supporting me,” she said.
“My husband was enthusiastic from the start and always encouraged me.”
However, she claimed that a key factor that had contributed to her family’s acceptance was the exemption from night shifts offered to women drivers.
Omar said the tests for would-be drivers had been grueling, requiring candidates to demonstrate their “attention span” and “endurance.”
She said drivers had to remain “extremely vigilant for long hours” during a six-day working week.
This development comes on the heels of a landmark decision last year by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi allowing women to work in judicial positions at the State Council and in the Public Prosecution for the first time in the country’s history. Now, there are 137 female judges on the council.
“Some passengers were afraid,” she told AFP. “They doubted my skills and said they did not feel safe with a woman at the controls.”
Launched in 1987, the Cairo Metro is the oldest in the Arab world, but it has fallen behind other Arab countries in providing employment opportunities for women.
The Cairo Metro serves three million commuters daily, according to recent remarks by Minister of Transport Kamel El-Wazir.
Source: AFP, Ahram Online, Africa News