In the words of Mona Taha: The ladder is hard to climb at first, but it becomes easier as you go along.


Mona is a shy woman who kept to herself inside her house with her three sons and husband, with little interaction with those around her. Although she would occasionally volunteer at the local community development association, she had never had a paid job before. When she first heard about the programme and ventured to join, all those around her objected.

Mona Taha
Photo of Mona Taha in her village in Beni Suef governorate. Photo: UN Women/ Nada Ismail

“I kept convincing my husband that I should at least give this experience a shot, until he gradually accepted. With time, he came to appreciate that we now have two sources of income, realizing how much financial pressure I was taking off his shoulders. Only then did he become extremely supportive.

Now my husband even gives me a hand with my business. He joins me on my trips to wholesalers to buy merchandise at a low price as well as by lifting and storing the products at our house, where I then sell them to retailers and villagers nearby. I started out by selling sanitary pads but quickly moved on to add other products and accessories. Besides serving my neighbourhood customers, I am now also a wholesale distributor to nearby shops and pharmacies.

As my business continued to grow, my husband offered me money to increase the capital and expand my business even more. Our relationship is much better since the financial stress that has caused us so many problems has been lessened. We are currently not only a couple but rather partners helping each other out.

The most important thing I took from this experience is that I was introduced to my strong personality. The ‘new me’. I learned to speak up, to be vocal, and to pursue my ambitions. Even my family, who once objected to me working, now admires me for my strength and my persistence.

Everyone keeps asking me, ‘What happened? You’ve always been such a quiet person?’ And I answer: ‘That was my past life before I began working and running my business’. Even my husband appreciates me turning into a new person.

I am now advising my sons that when they marry, they should pick a suitable woman who is a true partner, so they can build their lives together.

I tell any woman out there who wants to start working to take the leap and not to listen to any negative or discouraging words from those around her. The ladder is hard to climb at first, but it becomes easier as you go along.”