Huda Shaarawi

Huda Shaarawi, Siza Nebrawi and Nabawiya Moussa

88 years, she removed her veil in public at a Cairo train station announcing the beginning of a new path towards equality for the Arab Woman.

A couple of weeks ago, we remembered her in the middle of the Arab Spring carrying the flag of justice, freedom, progresses and facing the shadow of fundamentalism and the rise of the salafism claiming the monopoly of the absolute truth.

This is an occasion to shed the light on a central figure in early twentieth century Egyptian feminism. Born into a very wealthy family, Huda Shaarawi spent her early years in the harem. She was involved in philanthropic projects throughout her life. As a matter of fact, she created the first philanthropic society run by Egyptian women, offering social services for poor women and children. She argued that women-run social service projects were important for two reasons. First, by engaging in such projects, women would widen their horizons, acquire practical knowledge and direct their focus outward. Second, such projects would challenge the view that all women are creatures of pleasure and beings in need of protection.

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