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Known for Being

An Egyptian feminist, poet and editor, and one of the principal leaders of the women's liberation movement in Egypt in the mid-1940s.

As a direct result of her efforts, Egyptian women were granted the right to vote.

Created the first female military unit.

Lectured about Egyptian women in Asia, Europe and the United States.

Major Accomplishments

Doria Shafik was an Egyptian feminist, poet and editor, and one of the principal leaders of the women's liberation movement in Egypt in the mid-1940s. As a direct result of her efforts, Egyptian women were granted the right to vote by the Egyptian constitution. In February 1951, she secretly brought together 1500 women from Egypt's two leading feminist groupings (Bint Al-Nil and the Egyptian Feminist Union). She organized a march that interrupted parliament for four hours. The participants in the march had a series of demands mainly related to women's socioeconomic rights. However, in spite of receiving promises from the president of the Senate, women's rights experienced no improvements.

In 1951, Shafik decided to contribute to the efforts that aimed at ending the British occupation of Egypt by creating the first female military unit. This first female military unit had 2000 women, their task was to carry out essential nursing activities. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, Shafik requested government recognition of Bint Al-Nil as a political party, with Shafik herself as its president, which the government accepted to grant. In 1954, Shafik undertook an eight-day hunger strike at the press syndicate, in protest at the creation of a constitutional committee with no women on it. She ended her strike upon receiving a written statement that President Naguib was committed to a constitution that respected the rights of women. As a result of the interest sparked by her hunger strike, Shafik was invited to lecture in Asia, Europe and the United States about Egyptian women. She traveled to Italy, England, France, the United States, Japan, India, Ceylon and Pakistan.

As a result of Shafik's efforts, women were granted the right to vote under the constitution of 1956, with the provision, however, that they be literate, which was not a prerequisite for male voting. In 1957 Shafik undertook a second hunger strike in the Indian embassy, in protest over restriction of freedoms under President Abdel Nasser. As a result, she was put under house arrest by Nasser, her name was banned from the press and her magazines from circulation. In addition to her magazines, Shafik wrote a novel, L'Esclave Sultane (1952), several volumes of poetry published by Pierre Fanlac, her own memoirs, and translated The Holy Quran into English and French.

Last modified: 02/13/2019

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