Acclaimed Egyptian feminist Nawal Saadawi dies aged 89

Nawal Saadawi
Nawal Saadawi (AP)
17:17pm, Sun 21 Mar 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Nawal Saadawi a renowned Egyptian feminist, psychiatrist and novelist, has died of age-related health problems in Cairo, officials said.

Egypt’s Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem mourned the 89-year-old’s death, saying her writings had created a great intellectual movement.

Born in October 1931 in a Nile Delta village, Saadawi studied medicine in Cairo University.

She worked as a psychiatrist and university lecturer and authored dozens of books. She was also a regular writer in Egyptian newspapers.

As a fierce advocate of women rights in Egypt and the Arab world, her writings focused mainly on feminism, domestic violence against women and religious extremism. She was a vocal opponent of female genital mutilation in Egypt and worldwide.

When she published her famous book, Women And Sex in 1972, she faced a storm of criticism and condemnation from Egypt’s political and religious establishment. She also lost her job at the Health Ministry.

Egypt Feminist (AP)

She was detained and jailed for two months in 1981 as part of a wide political crackdown waged by then-President Anwar Sadat.

While in jail, Saadawi wrote down her experience in a book entitled: Memoirs From The Women’s Prison, using a roll of toilet paper and a cosmetic pencil.

Saadawi was the founder and head of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights.

In 2005, she was awarded the Inana International Prize in Belgium, a year after she received the North-South prize from the Council of Europe. In 2020, Time Magazine named her on their 100 Women of the Year list.

Saadawi was married three times, and is survived by a daughter and a son.

Sign up to our newsletter