Egypt’s Instagram Mom

Nour Emam is a doula-turned-sexual health educator who is stepping up to fill a massive gap in body literacy in Egypt and the Arab region. Her platform, Mother Being, is equipping over one million women and girls with knowledge about their bodies through social media content and paid in-depth courses in Arabic. 

Nour Emam, CEO and Founder of Mother Being

Cairo, Egypt

Almost two years ago, Nour Emam posted the following message on her company page called “Mother Being” which promoted her maternal support services: “Start asking questions, start rethinking the system and culture. Be curious. Reach out to someone who can help and support you. Knowledge is power and I really want you to have it all.”  

At the time, Mother Being had around 5,000 followers. Today, her platforms reach 1.5 million people daily after Nour Emam fortuitously become one of the faces of the sexual and reproductive health education movement in Egypt and the Middle East. 

However, working in the maternal and reproductive health education field was far from the career path Nour had envisioned. When she became pregnant three years ago, she was touring Europe as a musician and sound producer, even performing at eight months pregnant at a feminist rock show. However, a scarring birth experience would change her life forever. 

“I always talk about my experience; it is the backstory of Mother Being. It was a very traumatic birth and a traumatic postpartum period, mainly because I wasn’t given all the choices that I should have been given during my birth. I was coerced into a [C-section].”  

Nour Emam, This is Mother Being, Education
Nour Emam recognized as one of the top 10 impactful Egyptians of 2020 by Cairo Scene and is one of the most renowned women in the MENA region who discusses reproductive and sexual health in Arabic. Information and Photo by This is Mother Being

A lack of birth options for mothers in Egypt is common–Egypt has the 3rd highest rate of C-sections in the world, accounting for 52% of all deliveries. According to the World Health Organization, rates above 10% are not optimal, and when they are performed without a medical need, “it can put women and babies at unnecessary risk of short-and long-term health problems.” 

To provide women with the knowledge Nour wishes she had, she decided to become a licensed Pregnancy and Birth Maternal Support Practitioner (MSP), or “doula.” Nour explained, “If I can’t change what happened to me, at least I can make sure that other women feel supported during their birth[giving] and pregnancy journeys.” In order to promote her services, Nour launched a website and Instagram page Mother Being where she not only discussed birthing options, but also various topics under the umbrella of sexual and reproductive health: periods, pleasure, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. Nour’s platform was wading into unknown waters in Egypt by openly discussing taboo topics about women’s bodies, health, and, rights. 

Mother Being was catapulted into the limelight of Egyptian social media in July 2020 after she posted a now-viral video reacting to the Ahmed Bassem Zaki (ABZ) case, the 21-year old Egyptian man who was accused of sexual crimes by over 50 women and then sentenced to eight years in prison. The ABZ case ignited a #Metoo movement in Egypt, a country where 99% of women report experiencing sexual harassment in their lifetimes (UN Women, 2013). 

As thousands of other Egyptian women took to social media in the summer of 2020 to share their experiences, Nour’s platform proved to be a crucial tool for educating women about their bodies and their rights. Now, not only is Nour tackling topics that cannot be found in most, if any, Arab country’s school curricula, but she does it fully in Arabic. Additionally, social media content, especially in Arabic, has the power to cut across classes and socioeconomic standings in a way that few other channels can. Mother Being is granting access to sex education and promoting body literacy to anyone with a phone and internet connection.     

Using Social Media to Destigmatize Sexual Health

Two years after launching Mother Being, Nour has earned the title “Egypt’s Instagram Mom,” and her page has become one of the go-to educational entities for women in MENA region and beyond. Thousands of women learn about their bodies through their paid courses and millions through their social media presence on Instagram and TikTok. Through these courses, content, and their podcast, Nour and her team are de-stigmatizing sexual and reproductive health and equipping them with knowledge about their bodies to lead happier, healthier lives. Additionally, a forthcoming platform is positioning Mother Being to reach even more women in the region, catalyzing a sexual and reproductive health education revolution. 

Women, Sexual Health, Reproductive Education, MENA
Mother Being has become the go-to platform for Arab Women to receive Reproductive & Sexual Health Education.

Mother Being is openly and unabashedly discussing all topics related to women’s health and bodiesa feat that is ground-breaking itself. Nour is devoted to showing womanhood in all its unfiltered glory and bringing taboo topics to light. Her grid features labeled diagrams of the cervix, photos of stretch marks and scars from pregnancy, instructions on how to use contraception, and colorful infographics demonstrating fertilization, to name a few.

Mother Being provides educational content to its audience about how the female body physically works and how society has conditioned them to feel about it. From menstruation all the way to menopause and everything in between, the business offers both free information and paid, indepth courses that empower women to better understand how their bodies function and increase their confidence to ask questions. To ensure that content is medically accurate, This Is Mother Being has a medical advisor who oversees all technical content.  

Equally as crucial, Nour is passionate about contextualizing anatomical education within the patriarchy of Egyptian society. For example, the sex education course is both pleasure and culturecentric and is one of the first of its kind in Egypt.

Nour explained, “The course analyzes how we were raised and how we learned about our bodies. It also shows how we can make peace with our bodies so that we can access pleasure when the woman is married or when she decides to be sexually active. This is the most popular course and it draws an audience from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain.” Mother Being also addresses harassment, female genital mutilation, concepts such as virginity or marital rape, and much more. 

Access to quality and unbiased information allows women to change their attitudes and mindsets about their bodies and their sexualities. Thousands of women have taken Mother Being courses over the last two years, 90% of whom describe it as “game-changing.” Additionally, the majority of attendees of the course on menstruation reported that they left the experience much more comfortable with embracing their period. Through their insightful courses and ground-breaking content, Nour is scaling deep, empowering women to not only better understand their bodies, but feel comfortable and confident in all of the beautiful ways their bodies work.  

Sexual Health Revolution

Mother Being reaches an average of 1.5 million women and girls daily on their social media platforms, so it is no wonder their work has made waves in the region. Nour’s impact has been highlighted by top global news outlets such as the New York Times, WOMENA, Vogue, and BBC. Nour and her team are not slowing down; they are now scaling out, replicating their successful model to reach even more women in the MENA region and beyond to catalyze and sustain the body literacy movement.  

With hundreds of thousands of dedicated followers on its Instagram page, Mother Being is positioning itself to be the biggest FemTech (feminist technology) company in the MENA region. Their new platform will allow a myriad of educational services that comprise an entire community featuring different “chat rooms” based on topics of fertility, sex, birth, periods, motherhood, and more. This platform will also house on-demand paid and free courses. Think “Masterclass,” but for all things pertaining to womanhood—in Arabic.  

As a testament to the impact Nour has had on Egyptian women, she and her husband cannot even go out to eat without encountering a line of starstruck young girls who gush that her page changed their life. The first time it happened, Nour remembers her husband’s reflection: “You are being treated as a celebrity because you are a damn good and influential teacher. They love you not because you are an actress or singer, but because you are giving so many girls the opportunity to ask questions, understand their bodies, and have a happier life. You know you are shifting something and creating a change when girls are lining up to see you.” 

Nour and her team are spearheading a sea-change in how women view their bodies and the power that comes with this knowledge. When asked about her proudest achievement, Nour said, “I am most proud of the impact of my classes on women who attend. I love seeing their reflections and reactions to the courses. I cannot even wrap my head around or fully grasp the impact, it’s huge.”  

As Nour posted two years ago, knowledge is power. At the rate at which Mother Being is growing, more and more Egyptian women can have it all.  

By Audrey Lodes