Often described as Egypt’s first feminist, Huda al-Sharaawi was born into a privileged family in Cairo in 1879. She was married by the age of 13, yet managed to further her studies and travel during a temporary separation from her husband.
Sharaawi later joined her husband as an anticolonial activist. After going to Europe in 1914, she returned to Egypt to mobilize women against British rule. In 1923, she founded the Egyptian Feminist Union.
After her husband’s death, Sharaawi famously removed her face veil (but not her head scarf) for the first time in public at the International Woman Suffrage Alliance of 1923 in Rome.
Sharaawi also wrote poetry, and in 1925 began publishing a journal called L’Egyptienne (The Egyptian Woman). She died from a heart attack in 1947.
Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist (1879–1924)