Following the Egyptian revolution of January, the 25th, 2011, the term women's independence, istiqlal ijtma'ay, has been widely used by young Egyptian women. A mustaqilla (independent woman) identifies herself as a woman who is socio-economically independent from her family, lives on her own, and works to support herself. This thesis is concerned with the emergence of independent women, mustaqillat, as a social phenomenon, and questions how the phenomenon of istiqlal is constructed. What are its socio-economic dimensions, and associated meanings? Based on an ethnographic fieldwork with a group of Egyptian women who identify themselves as mustaqillat, this thesis focuses on mustaqillat who moved from their governorates to Cairo, and other cities in Egypt, for the purpose of having a greater mobility.


Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women's Studies

Degree Name

MA in Gender & Women's Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

September 2019

First Advisor

Rieker, Martina

Committee Member 1

Reem Saad, Dina Makram Ebid


145 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


Acknowledgements To my mom, the woman whose experiences have opened my eyes, Thanaa Mohamed Ali. To my dearest sisters, Ghada and Kholoud. To my lovely father, Ahmed Eldamaty. To Mohamed, my partner, thanks for the support, the intimacy, and the love you give me. To my dear nieces, Taline and Celine. To the women who shared my life with me at al-Mahalla al-Kubra for more than 20 years. To the friend who shares my inner thoughts, speaking them out loud, Alaa Hosny. To Hind Mahmoud, the friend who never compromises her feminist beliefs. To Marina Joseph, the friend who visited me while I was doubting my activism, and feminism, encouraging me to apply for that Master degree. To the women who trusted me, allowing me to enter their lives, for my coauthors in this research. To the women who gave me that honor to share sensitive parts of their istiqlal journeys. To the women who took the January 25th revolution seriously, and those who believed in them. To the newcomers, the outsiders, and the othered. To those who have to write their own history. To every woman who has been told that her experiences, and beliefs are not a political priority. To the women who have realized that social movements are evoked in their kitchen. This thesis is dedicated to all of you. Thanks for being here.