7 Egyptian Women Who Refused to Be Silenced and Changed History

According to nile fm, in honor of International Women’s Day, we’re remembering the iconic Egyptian women who changed the country’s modern history. Each of the inspiring women below helped advance women’s rights in a society that continuously tried to silence them.

1-   Safeya Zaghloul: 1876 – 1946

Safeya Zaghloul, known as “the mother of Egyptians,” played a pivotal role in advancing women’s rights in Egypt and organizing women’s demonstrations.

Safeya, the wife of the historic political figure Saad Zaghloul and the daughter of Prime Minister Mostafa Fahmy pasha, ignored her aristocratic roots and co-led the 1919 revolution against British occupation. She also converted her home into a Wafd party headquarters, and it became known as “the house of the Ummah.”

2-   Huda Shaarawi: 1879 – 1947

Egypt’s first feminist, and founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union, Huda Shaarawi influenced not only women in Egypt but also women all over the Arab world.

She presented a list of nationalist and feminist demands at the opening of the Egyptian parliament in 1924. She founded the feminist magazine l’Egyptienne and represented Egypt at international women’s congresses.

3-   Nabawiya Musa: 1886 – 1951

The first Egyptian girl to get a high-school education, Nabawiya Musa was a pioneer of women’s education in Egypt and is widely recognized as one of the founding feminists of the 20th century in Egypt. She often partnered up with Huda El Shaarawi.

She was an avid writer and educator, and adamantly gave lectures around Egypt advocating for the education of women.

4-   Hilana Sedarous: 1904–1998

Hilana Sedarous, Egypt’s first female doctor, opened a private clinic specializing in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Hilana was one of the first Egyptian women to study in England, and she performed her surgeries at Cairo’s Coptic hospital.

5-   Umm Kulthum 1904-1975

Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum is still the most recognizable figure in Arabic music, having sold over 80 million records worldwide.

She firmly placed womanhood at the forefront of national identity, alongside men, and made the decision to sing about politics rather than romantic epics.

6-   Lotfia El Nady 1907 – 2002

Lotfia El Nady was the first Egyptian woman to receive an aviation licence and the world’s second woman to fly solo after Amelia Earhart in 1933.

With her mother’s approval, Lotfia secretly attended flying lessons twice a week and told her father she was in a study group and got a job at Cairo Airport before getting her license so she can cover her own fees.

7-   Daria Shafik 1908 – 1975

Doria Shafik’s valiant efforts resulted in Egyptian women being granted the right to vote in 1956. She was a staunch feminist and one of the primary leaders of Egypt’s women’s liberation movement in the mid-1940s.

In 1951, she managed to secretly bring together 1500 women from Egypt’s two leading feminist groups and organized a march to parliament to present a series of demands to advance women’s socioeconomic rights.

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