Aida, hairdresser and stylist in Al-Ezzeya village


Aida Shafik introduced herself as an illiterate housewife and mother of three children. At least this is how she used to be. Aida lives with her husband and children in Al-Ezzeya village, Manfalot disctrict (Markaz) since over 10 years now. For her, life was harsh until she heard about Hayat Kareema project. “I once went with a relative to a hairdresser and saw her pay 200 EGP. I can become a hairdresser. My husband works all day under the burning sun of Assiut just to come back home with few pounds that do not cover our expenses. I know I can help”, Aida says. Aida faced many challenges before she could fulfill her dream. Norms put many restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and limit their ability to conduct profitable activities outside their homes. Women work is often shameful in Upper Egypt. At the beginning, Aida’s husband refused the idea: the business needs a capital to buy equipment, while his income barely covered the family basic needs. More and above, Aida did not have the skills needed to conduct a business of hairdressing. In addition, it is out of question for her and her husband to leave the house and spend few days in Assiut to get the required training there. At that time, her dream was far away from becoming true. To improve the economic opportunities for women in poor communities like Aida, Hayat Kareema distributed sub-grants to 130 local grassroots associations, 60 of whom supporting women, to launch micro-projects in order to ensure better livelihoods for themselves and their families. Why women? “Because we believe in the role of
women in improving livelihoods of their families and children. We also fully understand that many of the social issues that women face including domestic violence, early marriage as well as other problems are strongly related to crushing economic challenges”, Howaida Nagy, Project Manager at CARE explains. The community development association (CDA) in her village just made an announcement for women to present their applications. Approved candidates receive training sessions in order to gain the necessary skills for running their new businesses. For example, Aida received a two-week training at the local association on all aspects of hairdressing business. The association contracted a professional hairdresser from Cairo to come over in Assiut and train 15- 20 women the necessary skills for becoming a hairdresser. “I’d like to thank our trainer for everything he taught us. I did not come out of the training as a super hairdresser but I learned a lot. With practice and ongoing communications and advice from our trainer, I even became a better hairdresser”, she said. With a growing business, Aida can now support her children. “I am now capable of meeting my children needs and offer them a decent life. I say to every women out there: “work as long as you want to. People will talk anyway, so let them talk about me doing something useful for my family”, Aida says. Today, Aida’s husband supports her. He supports with food preparation for their children and makes sure they study their lessons. Now, Aida is thankful for him, as he also wants to see this business grow.Aida, hairdresser and stylist in Al-Ezzeya village Photo credit: Doaa Hamdy