Cairo Metro Employs Egypt’s First Female Train Drivers

As it prepares to expand to serve a population now exceeding 20 million, the Cairo metro has recruited Egypt’s first female train drivers, a novelty in a country where few women have formal jobs.

Since April, commuters on the network’s newest line have seen women take the controls in the driver’s cab, with reactions ranging from raised eyebrows to outright disapproval, according to the two pioneers.

Egyptian women have had the right to vote and stand for office since 1956, but patriarchal legislation and a male-dominated culture have severely limited personal rights.

The Cairo metro itself provides reserved carriages for women who do not wish to ride with men in an attempt to provide protection against sexual harassment.

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.

Moroccan Saida Abad became the first female train driver in Africa and the Arab world in 1999.

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