Who should be First Lady for First Revolutionized Egypt
Middle East First Ladies- a force to contend with
An Egyptian journalist who interviewed the former President's wife, Suzanne Mubarak, before the recent revolt, complains that she told him that her care for the nation's children extended as far as giving each child a cup of milk.
Suzanne launched many campaigns concerned with such problems as avian flu, swine flu, women's health, the family and population control.
Citizens paid for all her noble campaigns through their taxes, but Suzanne got all the glory from them.
Another one of her State-financed projects was “reading for All” that ran from 1993 till 2010 and proved very popular with Egyptians, who benefited from the books about the country's heritage and culture that were sold very cheaply.
Although the State-run General Egyptian Book Organisation funded this project for 17 years, Suzanne's name and photo appeared on every copy of every book.
She also got the praise for another project to develop 100 schools, according to Al-Akhbar semi-official newspaper.
The project, carried out by the Heliopolis Association, chaired by Suzanne, involved renovating the schools and improving the teaching skills and management techniques of the staff. The Association paid millions of pounds for the work; Suzanne herself paid nothing.
Unfortunately, the development was limited to repainting the walls of the schools and planting trees in their playgrounds. The training courses Suzanne talked about for the teachers never happened.
Suzanne's social and political role needs to be reconsidered and the wife of future presidents ought not to be automatically given the title 'First Lady'.
Professor of Sociology Azza Abdel-Karim, who works at the National Centre for Criminological and Sociological Research, says that late legendary singer Um Kalthoum was also called the First Lady.
Um Kalthoum did much for her country, including collecting donations for the nation in the hard times of the 1960s, when not even late President Gamal Abdel-Nasser's wife enjoyed the accolade of being called First Lady, although Jehan Sadat, the wife of Abdel-Nasser's successor, was referred to by this title.
Professor Azza told Al-Ahram semi-official newspaper that things had changed for women in Egypt.
“According to the Holy Qur'an, a female only gets half the inheritance her brother gets when their father dies. But officials under Mubarak wanted a new law that would grant children – females and males – equal shares of their inheritance.
“Meanwhile, a woman should only be called First Lady if she has done something to deserve it, for example contributing to charitable causes,” she said.