Raised by a single mother in Egypt, Sue Ellen Hassouna overcame the odds to become a successful lawyer in a male-dominated profession and society. She credits her success to her mother, and now she supports younger women in their careers.
SUE ELLEN HASSOUNA, EGYPT
My goal is to change society’s perspective on women and fight the prejudice they face on a daily basis – both in Egypt and around the world. I want to use my position and influence to make a stand for women.
Fighting for Equality
From the moment I chose to study law until today, I’ve seen a lot of prejudice against women, especially in the field of law. I used to get disapproving looks from my male colleagues in courtrooms. I’ve faced stereotyping, judgmental attitudes, and disrespect. I had to fight to be taken seriously in my profession. Even though I achieved high grades at university, large corporations rejected me when I applied for jobs as a fresh graduate. There was a sense that they couldn’t trust a woman lawyer with the job.
After getting rejected from 13 companies, I vowed to work hard until the companies that rejected me would instead seek to employ me. Now, I’m the head of the legal department of a large corporation and have set up a scholarship for young women who want to become lawyers.
Inspired and Inspiring
My mother is my inspiration, and the one behind my success, which is why I named the scholarship after her. I was raised by a single mother – she’s a fighter, had strong principles, and taught us right from wrong. She is my role model and my support.
When I chose to study law, everyone ridiculed me and put me down because I was shy and quiet as a young girl. But my mother believed in me. Even after I finished university and couldn’t find work, she helped me further my studies. I owe it all to her. No one can be successful without the help of others. That’s what inspired me to create a scholarship for young women lawyers.
Women in Egypt face many financial and cultural constraints which prevent them pursuing proper education or professional careers. I want to prove that these doors should not be closed to women and we should help them overcome financial and cultural obstacles.
The chance to invest in young hopeful women and help them succeed is a great reward for my efforts. Sue Ellen Hassouna was recently featured on SAT-7 ARABIC program She’s the Story.
The show presents the lives of successful Arab women who have faced adversity courageously and achieved their goals. It seeks to inspire women to fight against social prejudices and pursue their dreams wholeheartedly.
“Just as my mother helped me, I want to help the next generation of women pursuing education and a career.”