People in SEKEM: Hanem Mahmoud Youssef

Hanem Mahmoud is the first woman managing one of the departments in SEKEMs Vocational Training Center

“I appreciate that everything in SEKEM is connected somehow and arts play an essential role”, Hanem Mahmoud says. “With my students of the electric engineering class we performed for example a short theatre play at the weekly school celebration. It was an amazing experience.” Hanem is the manager of the electric engineering department in SEKEMs Vocational Training Center (VTC) and the first women in this position. “In Egypt women are very rare in technical professions. During my studies we were only four girls in the engineering class”, the 29-years old SEKEM co-worker remembers.

The Engineer chose the job related to electricity, because she likes to combine theoretical and practical work. In SEKEM she is employed now since two years: “I was impressed by everything that SEKEM is offering – not only the different departments in the VTC. There is the Medical Center, different schools and companies and many other services and activities, especially in the cultural field.” Hence, Hamen, mother of a son, decided to contribute something artistic from her department too. Together with her pupils she initiated a play about sustainability and security in regards to electricity. “My students have been very excited. It was their first time to present something on stage. Afterwards it was a great joy to see how proud they were”, Hanem tells.

This year four girls, for the first time in the history of SEKEMs electric engineering department, started the training for becoming electricians; two former SEKEM pupils and two from other schools. This might be a result of the Girl’s Day that was organized in the SEKEM School and VTC in 2015. In this context, female pupils had the chance to get an impression of the different professions that are taught in SEKEMs VTC, either at that special day or more extensive while doing in internship for three weeks. “ONe time a girl asked me to not be too strict with her, because she is a girl”, Hanem remembers. “I told her that she has to change her attitude if she really wants to work in this job. I treat all pupils in the same way and don’t make differences between boys or girls. They have to show the same performance and receive equal chances.” However, the SEKEM teacher even has the feeling that the youngsters in her class treat her with more respect than her male colleagues, as she could be their mother or older sister.

“I especially enjoy that all pupils love what they do. They are very ambitious to do practical work and they are always curious to learn something new”, Hanem reveals. “Just in some moments they are still afraid of electricity. I then demonstrate that, with the right knowledge, it is not dangerous at all. It’s great to see how they accordingly gain trust.” The young SEKEM co-worker is looking forward to keep working in SEKEMs Vocational Training Center as it offers a lot more than other institutions. “I also wish to have more children, but for sure I will continue working – it belongs to my life and I was taught already by my mother that it is important to have a job. All females in my family are working and are grateful for it.”

Christine Arlt

Girl's Day in SEKEM
SEKEM Gender Strategy Launching