80 years old and still fighting

Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey chats with the octogenarian author and activist, Nawal El-Saadawi, Egyptian novelist, essayist and physician, whose feminist works have widened the boundaries of the Arab novel. Nawal El Saadawi’s central theme is the oppression of women and womens’ desire for self-expression.

She first gained fame with her nonfictional writing. Her books have been banned in Egypt and some other Arab countries. In this video she talks about refusing to go home when protests in Cairo turned violent as pro- and anti-Mubarak forces attacked each other.

Nawal El Saadawi was born in Kafr Tahla in Lower Egypt’s Dealta. Her father was a civil servant at the Ministry of Education; her mother came from an upper-class family. Against the common practice, her parents sent all the nine children, not only boys, to school. Nawal El Saadawi was a good student, and in 1949 she entered the medical school. She was educated at the University of Cairo, receiving her M.D. in 1955. Later she studied at Columbia University, New York, receiving her Master of Public Health degree in 1966. Her marriage to Ahmed Helmi, a medical-student and freedom fighter, ended in divorce. Her second husband was a wealthy traditionalist, whom Nawal El Saadawi divorced when he did not accept her writing – she had started to write as a child. In 1964 Nawal El Saadawi married Sherif Hetata, a physician and novelist. He has translated into English several of Saadawi’s books.

Read more here

h/t to Diana Eck:

Dear Friends of Women, Religion, and Social Change,

Our long time friend and colleague Nawal el Saadawi is, as would be expected, stalwart with the demonstrators in Tahrir Square. It is wonderful to see her spirit –now eighty, undiminished, ablaze.

We send her our prayers and love,


Diana L. Eck

Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies

Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society

Barker Center 307

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA 02138

Master of Lowell House

50 Holyoke Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

Director, The Pluralism Project

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