Figure 4: Huda Shaarawi

Huda.jpgHuda Shaarawi (1879-1947) was an Egyptian feminist, whose activism helped to pave the way for a society which allowed women far more freedom than they had in the past.

Egyptian women at the time were subject to a harem system, which meant that women were made to be veiled and secluded from society, regardless of what religion they practiced. She worked to educate women, organising lectures which encouraged them to get out of their homes and opening a school for girls centred around academic rather than practical teaching. She was also involved in decrying British rule in Egypt after the first World War.

Huda is perhaps most famous for the act of publicly removing her veil in 1923, an act that was soon followed by other Egyptian women. Within a decade, most Egyptian women were choosing not to wear veils.

Huda continued to be an activist for the rest of her life until her death in 1947. She used her intelligence and strength to speak up for women, and to tell them that they have a choice; to wear what they want, to learn what they want, to live how they want. Huda continues to inspire Arab women to this day. I feel that Huda can fit into either ‘Underrated’ or ‘Overlooked’, as I had never heard of her before and I suspect many non-Arabs haven’t either.

My main source is this site, and another good article can be found here.

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