Hoda Sha’rawi, Pioneer of egyptian feminist movement



Hoda Sha’rawi was an early pioneer of Egyptian Feminist movement. One of the few women who participated in the national resistance against British occupation of Egypt, she also advocated equal opportunity for women. The head of the first women’s society in Egypt, she was also elected vice-president of the international women’s association and president of the Arab women’s association. She was an ideal for many other feminist leaders who followed her.

Education and career:

Born in el-Minya on July 23,1879, she committed the whole of the Holy Quran to memory at the age of eight.

Her father, Mohammad Sultan Pasha the Speaker of the House of Representatives, died when she was eight years of age and she was brought up by mother.

She was married to her cousin Ali Sha’rawi, who was a member of the delegation (Wafd) who went to see the British High-Commissioner in Egypt demanding right of independence in 1919. These circumstances were no doubt instrumental in making her as pioneer of Women’s awakening in both Egypt and the Arab world.

Mrs. Sha’rawi marriage with Ali Sha’rawi, who allowed her the opportunity of dedication to public life and social activity which later extended to political involvement in the 1919 revolution. In 1907, Mrs. Sha’rawi urged Egyptian women to make and collect contributions to build a child welfare society. Her call was widely welcomed and contributions were collected, but owing to government intervention, the project was nipped in the bud. In 1908, Mrs. Sha’rawi invited French writer Margrette Calamine to address women at the university. The event was so successful that Prince-later King-Fouad ordered a similar event to be organized for women on Friday each week.

Mrs. Sha’rawi effectively contributed to the establishment of Mohammad Ali’s charity, where girls were trained in sewing and health care provide to children.

Major Achievements:

Led first women’s demonstration in Egypt in 1919.

Formed "the Wafd Party’s Central Committee on Women", which was in charge of supervising women’s participation in the national movement at that time.

-  Urged women to participate, as far as they could, in national activities including preparations for demonstrations, first aid. On March 18,1923, she founded the Egyptian Women’s Union.

Founded two magazine; "L’Egyptienne" in French, 1925 and "AI Misrya" in Arabic, 1937. Both magazines specialized in women’s issues.

-  Advocated girls education and equal opportunities for women in education and employment.

-  Founded an orphanage and an atelier for women’s crafts.

-  Thanks to her efforts a law was enacted in 1924, raising the marriage age to 16 for girls and 18 for men.

-  Advocated the opening of secondary schools for girls, leading to the opening in 1924 of As-Saniyya Secondary School for girls. She also advocated admission of girls into the university.

-  Represented Egyptian in about 14 international women’s conferences. In 1924, she addressed a conference in Granz, Austria aimed to eradicate trading in women and children, calling for the shutdown of brothels around the world. She also highlighted the adverse effects of foreign concessions in Egypt.

-  In 1924, she reviewed major problems of Egyptian women in conference in Paris.

-  In a conference in Istanbul (1935), she was selected vice president of the International Women’s Association.

-  In 1944, she formed the Arab Women’s Association to discuss the Palestine issue. It was a source of pride for Arab Women, that the Arab Women’s Association was founded prior the Arab League.

In 1945, she represented Egypt, together with Mrs. Siza Nabarawi and Mrs. Esmat Assem, spouse of the distinguished economist Tal’at Harb. She called for the prevention of nuclear weapons, particularly after the Hiroshima bombing.

Mrs. Sha’rawi’s life was a relentless endeavor in the interest of women’s welfare and progress.

Font: arabicnews.com

30th December 2004


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