- Title: A match made by a woman: Egypt's marriage officiant challenges norms
- Date: 14th August 2019
- Summary: NEWSPAPER ARTICLES ABOUT SOLAIMAN ON TABLE
- Embargoed: 28th August 2019 10:57
- Keywords: Female marriage officiant in Egypt Women in Egypt Egyptian women Women rights in Egypt
- Location: ZAGAZIG, EGYPT
- City: ZAGAZIG, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA002AS6WIMV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A couple tying the knot in a small Egyptian village will tell the story of their marriage ceremony being run by a woman, an unconventional practice in a country where the job of a marriage officiant is typically reserved for men.
But in the village of Qanayat in the northern city of Zagazig, Amal Solaiman, 43, is a licensed notary who officiated nearly 3,000 marriages since receiving her licence.
It all started when the uncle of Solaiman's husband, who was the village's marriage officiant, passed away in 2007.
At the time, Solaiman just had just finished her master's degree in law and was hunting for a job.
When her husband suggested she applies for his uncle's position, she thought the idea was far-fetched.
It took her a whole year competing against 11 male applicants for the job, and was happy that the law, preferring candidates with the highest academic degrees for the job, was properly applied. But it was not an easy task.
"This was completely new for a woman, facing society was the most (difficult thing). There were people who strongly rejected it out of ignorance," she said.
An article published in a state-run newspaper about her at the time was a double-edged sword. While it triggered heavy criticism, it also publicised her services within the community.
When she finally opened her office in 2008, customers gradually came in, and she is now even considered better than her male counterparts.
Being a woman helped Solaiman in situations when she sensed the bride was forced into the marriage.
In Egypt, women need only two witnesses to verify on her behalf her acceptance of the union. In some cases, many male officiants will take the word of the two witnesses, also men, without asking the bride to be.
She had to cancel some marriages and postpone others, empowering women to decide their own fate. "This is an advantage of a female marriage officiant," she said.
"But at the end of the day, it isn't a race against men. All I'm saying is that whoever is more qualified for a position should get it," Solaiman continued.
(Production: Sayed Sheasha, Mai Shams El-Din)
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