6 Things to Know About Dr. Nawal Saadawi Post Her Death

Image of Nawal El Saadawi honouring her. Photo: Instagram (@jasmine95_official)

One of Egypt’s and the Arab world’s most prominent feminism icons passed away yesterday: Dr. Nawal Saadawi.

Causing much controversy during her life, Nawal Saadawi, is a well known Egyptian feminist, writer, activist, physician, and psychiatrist. Her work as an author and activist focused in the topic of the lives of women under Islam as a religion. She is also most know for her work and advocast on the issue of female genital mutatilation. She was given many honorary names during her lifetime, such as “the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab World”, and as “Egypt’s most radical woman”. 

Saadawi received many awards for her contributions and achievements, including the North–South Prize from the Council of Europe in 2004, the Inana International Prize in Belgium in 2005, the Seán MacBride Peace Prize by the International Peace Bureau in 2012. 

She’s a trabilizer and has made her stamp in fighting the patriarchal system in the Egypt and the Arab world in different ways. Passing away after a 90 year lifetime of serving women, here’s 5 things you need to know about Nawal:

1. As an author, she focused on three main themes in her work: women, religion and sex.

2. Her opinions and activism was highly controversial due to her upfront challenge of many taboo topics in the arabic culture. This has caused her to lose her job as a physician after publishing her book “Woman and Sex”, as well as her Egyptian citizenship.

3. Her book “Woman and Sex” attacked the concept of genital mutilation in women, which she personally underwent at the age of 6. The book was banned in Egypt until 1972. It later resulted in the criminalization of female genital mutilation in 2008 in Egypt.

4. She has referred to the constitution of marriage as a “buy and sell market”, in which women lose their respect in the process. 

5. Saadawi’s books were banned in Egypt and many other Arab countries.

6. Her continuous challenging of social issues that relate to religious matters has caused her to receive many death threats throughout her lifetime.

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