Nawal El Saadawi

Egyptian physician, psychiatrist, author, and feminist

"I am becoming more radical with age. I have noticed that writers, when they are old, become milder. But for me it is the opposite. Age makes me more angry." -Nawal El Saadawi

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Early life/Education

  • Born October 27th, 1931 in Kafr Tahlah, Egypt
  • Suffered genital mutilation at the age of 6
  • Her family was extremely traditional, but her father insisted that all his children receive an education
  • Attended Cairo University (M.D. 1955)
  • Went on to earn her M.P.H at Columbia University in 1966
  • Performed psychiatric research at 'Ayn Shams University in Cairo
  • Worked as a physician at Cairo University and later became the director-general of the health education department in the Egyptian ministry of health.

“Solidarity between women can be a powerful force of change, and can influence future development in ways favourable not only to women but also to men.” ― Nawal El-Saadawi, The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World

  • She's written over 50 books - concentrate on Arab women's sexuality and legal status
  • Her books were banned in Egypt so she had to go to Beirut, Lebanon to publish
  • First book was Women and Sex
  • Made political authorities angry and she lost her position at the Ministry of Health
  • Published her most famous work, The Hidden Face of Eve, in 1977 -covered aggression against young girls, genital mutilation, prostitution, sexual relationships, marriage/divorce, and Islamic fundamentalism
  • Became the United Nations Advisor for the Women's Program in Africa and the Middle East
  • Because of her activism, she was imprisoned for "crimes against the state, continued to write
  • Wrote Memoirs from the Women's Prison

"I was arrested because I believed Sadat. He said there is democracy and we have a multi-party system and you can criticize. So I started criticizing his policy and I landed in jail."

  • Afterwards formed the Arab Women's Solidarity Association in 1981 - the first legal, independent feminist movement in Egypt
  • Wrote a play - God Resigns in the Summit Meeting
Nawal El Saadawi in Tahrir Square
FUUSE WORLD WOMAN: Nawal El Saadawi with Kenan Malik
Gornick, V. (1982). ABOUT THE MUTILATED HALF. Retrieved April 03, 2016, from

Nawal El Saadawi. (n.d.). Retrieved April 03, 2016, from

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Nawal El Saadawi. Retrieved April 03, 2016, from