Who is she?
While growing up she was expected to be a child bride, but blackened her teeth and even spilled coffee over one potential suitor.
Nawal trained as a doctor and saw first hand the hardships women in her country endured. In 1972 she published the book Women and Sex, which attacked the way her society treated women’s bodies, including circumcision. The book was a huge influence, but ultimately its controversial nature cost her a number of jobs.
In 1981 she published a feminist magazine called Confrontation, and was jailed by the Egyptian President. While in jail, she wrote a book on a roll of toilet paper, using an eyebrow pencil smuggled in by a fellow prisoner.
She was forced to flee Egypt in 1988 when Islamists threatened her life. After living in the US, she returned to Egypt and continues to be a vocal activist.
Why should we thank her?
Nawal is considered one of the world’s most influential second-wave feminists and a staunch critic of oppressive practices against women in her country. She continues to be as radical as ever, despite her views and writing putting her own life in danger.
“Danger has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a pen and wrote. Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies.”