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Chang, Leslie T.


An incisive exploration of women and work, showing how globalization's promise of liberation instead set the stage for repression—from the acclaimed author of Factory Girls.

What happens to the women who choose to work in a country struggling to reconcile a traditional culture with the demands of globalization? In this sharply drawn, immersive portrait of Egyptian society, veteran reporter Leslie T. Chang follows three women as they establish businesses and careers in a country that throws up obstacles at every step, from economic upheaval to conservative marriage expectations to a failing education system. 

Working in Egypt’s centuries-old textile industry, Riham is a shrewd businesswoman who nevertheless struggles to attract workers at her garment factory and to create products that can compete in the global twenty-first-century marketplace. Rania, who works on an assembly line in an Upper Egyptian factory, attempts to climb to a management rank, but is held back by personal conflicts with coworkers and supervisors and the humiliation of an unhappy marriage. Her colleague Doaa, meanwhile, pursues an education and independence but sacrifices access to her own children in order to get a divorce. Through deep reporting over two years in farming villages and on factory floors, Chang shows how women resist the pressure to give up, despite living in a country where history and tradition confine them to narrow roles and a globalizing economy has led, counterintuitively, to a conservative turn of society that discourages women from entering the workforce at all. She shares with us the rarely heard voices of ordinary women in Egypt and why its economic history continues to fail them.

Alongside these stories, Chang shares her own experience living and working in Egypt for five years, seeing through her own eyes the risks and prejudices that working women face. She also weaves in the history of Egypt’s vaunted textile industry, colonization, and independence, a century of political upheaval, and the social history of Islam in Egypt, all of which shaped the country it is today and the choices available to Riham, Rania, and Doaa. Following each woman between home and work, Chang powerfully observes the near-impossible balancing act that Egyptian women strike every day.

Story Locale:Egypt

Egyptian Made

SKU: 9780525509219

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