Saadawi 1931 - 2021 (90)

If you do not love yourself, well, you cannot do anything well.


Woman at

Point Zero

She later wrote about the event:

"I did not know what had been cut from my body, and I did not look for it. I just cried and called my mother for help. But the worst shock of all was when I looked around and found her standing by my side. 'Yes, it was her. I could not have been wrong, with flesh and blood, right in the middle of these strangers, talking to them and smiling at them, as if they had not taken part in the slaughter of her daughter a few minutes before.'"

Nawal El Saadawi (Arabic: نوال السعداوى) (1931-2021) was an Egyptian physician, writer, activist, and feminist. She was born in a small Egyptian village on October 21, 1931, and at the age of six, she underwent clitoridectomy an experience which deeply influenced her work and activism. Her father was a government official in the Ministry of Education and had taken part in the Egyptian Revolution of 1919. Her mother was from a higher class, but despite their education, they considered the practice of clitoridectomy necessary.

Nawal grew up after the traumatic experience feeling deeply the injustice against women. "If you are righteous, why did you not create my mother and father equal?" she asked in a letter to God that she wrote at the age of 7. At the age of 10, she made her first revolutionary act, pouring hot tea on the would-be groom who had come home to marry her. In the following years, instead of accepting a groom and being confined to her home, she focused on her studies. In 1955, she graduated from the Medical School of Cairo University and specialized in psychiatry. From her practice time and later, as a doctor in her hometown, she made it her life's purpose to effect change for women.

She began writing at a young age, and in 1972, scandalized the country with the essay "Women and Sex," in which she pointed out how oppressed women were in their relationships and made extensive reference to the barbarity of clitoridectomy. In 1975, her book "Woman at Point Zero" was published in Lebanon because in Egypt, they refused to publish it. The book is about the life of a woman who was about to be executed for the murder of her pimp. Nawal had met her on the eve of her execution, and in her book, she points out how murderous the male environment was in the life of that unfortunate woman. She wrote many books on the position of women in the Muslim world, on political and women's rights, which provoked strong reactions and persecution. The culmination was her imprisonment in 1981, while in 1991, her name appeared on a death list of a fundamentalist Islamist organization, forcing her into self-exile in the United States. She returned to Cairo in 1996.

She was one of the founders of the "Arab League for Human Rights," and she founded the "Solidarity Association for Women in the Arab World," the "Association for Health Education," and the "Association of Egyptian Women Writers." She was the editor-in-chief and contributor to medical journals. She was honored by the Council of Europe with the North-South Award. Saadawi was married three times and had a daughter and a son. She died at a hospital in Cairo on March 21, 2021, after a long battle with cancer.