Leading Egyptian Feminist Nawal El-Saadawi Dies at Age 89

Renowned Egyptian feminist writer and physician Nawal El-Saadawi has died at age 89, state-run daily newspaper Al-Ahram reported on March 21.

Officials said El-Saadawi has died of age-related health problems.

Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem mourned Saadawi and said that her writings paved a great intellectual movement.

“Such a sad loss for our region, our world. Rest in peace, rest in power, sisterhood and books,” Turkish writer and women’s rights activist Elif Shafak said on Twitter.

Described as the Arab world’s leading feminist, El-Saadawi founded the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, one of the first legal and independent feminist groups in Egypt, while she was imprisoned by former President Anwar El-Sadat in 1981, who said that her views were “too radical for society and the state,” according to Al-Ahram.

Al-Ahram also reported that El-Saadawi strongly campaigned against women wearing hijab because she deemed the practice as “succumbing to a ‘form of slavery.'”

El-Saadawi also fought against the widespread practice of female genital mutation, all forms of polygamy, and inequality in Islamic inheritance rights between men and women.

“Women cannot be liberated in a class society or a male-dominated patriarchal society. This is why we have to get rid, fight against class oppression, gender oppression, and religious oppression. We cannot speak about revolution without women,” El-Saadawi told CNN in 2011.

Also described as the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab world, who was a famous French feminist and author, El-Saadawi wrote dozens of books on women, including “Women & Sex,” “Memoirs in the Women’s Prison,” and “A New Battle in Women’s Issues.”

El-Saadawi was also the co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights and was among the protesters who demanded the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 revolt.


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