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Egyptian Made

Egyptian Made

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

“Exhaustively reported and researched, Egyptian Made takes us halfway across the world and inside the intimate lives of women caught between tradition and independence.”—Monica Potts, New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten 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 portrait of Egyptian society—deepened by two years of immersive reporting—Leslie T. Chang follows three women as they persevere in a country that throws up obstacles to their progress at every step, from dramatic swings in economic policy to conservative marriage expectations and a failing education system.

Working in Egypt’s centuries-old textile industry, Riham is a shrewd businesswoman who nevertheless struggles to attract workers to her garment factory and to compete in the global marketplace. Rania, who works on a factory assembly line, attempts to climb to a management rank but is held back by conflicts with co-workers 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.

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