Wednesday, March 8, 2023

IWD2023 : Let’s have high hopes like Amal Ismail and Zubaida Abdel Aal

Happy International Women's Day 2023.

It comes in a very hard economic time in Egypt with a lot of pressure and challenges facing women for real in society but instead, I will focus on two positive news that made headlines in Egypt in the past week.

Zubaida and Amal
Zubaida and Amal 

First of all, we got the news of Mrs Zubaida Abdel Aal of Mounfia governorate who took her literacy exam a couple of weeks ago at the age of 87 years old.

The photo and news of Haja Zubaida made it to Angelina Jolie’s Instagram stories and the internet in the Arab world went mad to see an old Egyptian peasant granny making it to Angelina Jolie’s Instagram.

Mrs Zubaida Abdel Aal
Mrs Zubaida Abdel Aal knows how to write and read now 

It was a huge success for the Egyptian government because the mother of 8 and grandmother of 13 was one of the beneficiaries of the “No illiteracy with Takafol initiative” launched by the Ministry of social solidarity to fight illiteracy among the beneficiaries of “Takaful and Karama Program.

Before Angelina Jolie publishes that story, the media already reached out to Zubaida and interviewed her. According to the old Nile Delta granny, her father did not see the importance of educating his daughters. After all, they were all farmers.

The eldest of her sister, she insisted that they would receive an education following the death of their father. Zubaida married at the age of 18. She also insisted that all her children “four boys and four girls” were educated.

The 87-year-old woman joined the “No illiteracy with Takafol initiative” in September 2022. 

Mrs Zubaida does not plan to continue her education because that means she will have to travel daily from her village and she is already old.

For her, being able to read is a good thing because she will be able to read the Holy Quran on her own.

Now if you think the story of Mrs Zubaida Abdel Aal did not lift your spirit up for some reason then read the next story, the story of Mrs Amal Ismail.

Another grandmother, Mrs Amal Ismail made headlines at the age of 80 years old when she received her master’s degree in literature from the Faculty of Arts, University of Mansoura.

Mrs Amal Ismail
Mrs Amal Ismail discussed her master's thesis at the faculty last week 

Amal Ismail did not complete her education when she married at a young age in the city of Mansoura. She only finished primary education.

She gave birth to her children and became a housewife but at the age of 38, she decided to continue her education.

Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cancer then.

Mrs Ismail fought cancer twice and conquered it. At the age of 70 years old, she joined high school giving no damn about her age or mockery of the society that an old woman like her would pursue her dreams.

Ten years later, granny Amal Ismail managed to get her master’s degree and she won’t stop there.

She decided to go for the PhD. 

Old Egyptian grannies Zubaida and Amal have seen a lot without a doubt yet they did not give up so you, my dear reader should not do so.


  1. You go Granny - Congratulations!!

  2. nice and uplifting post - Zeinobia I had RT'd news on one, but not the other. Thank you, Sherifa Zuhur


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