Nawal Saadawi, a renowned Egyptian feminist, psychiatrist and novelist, whose writings have stirred controversy for decades in an overwhelming conservative society, has passed away at the age of 89 in Cairo on Sunday due to related health problems, officials said.
Egypt’s Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem mourned Saadawi’s passing, saying her writings had created a great intellectual movement.
Saadawi was born in October 1931 in a Nile Delta village, and studied medicine in Cairo University. She worked as a psychiatrist and university lecturer and authored dozens of books. She was also a regular writer in Egyptian newspapers.
As a fierce advocate of women rights in Egypt and the Arab world, her writings focused mainly on feminism, domestic violence against women and religious extremism. She was a vocal opponent of female genital mutilation in Egypt and worldwide.
When she published her famous book, “Women and Sex” in 1972, she faced a storm of criticism and condemnation from Egypt’s political and religious establishment. She also lost lost her job at the Health Ministry.
She was detained and jailed for two months in 1981 as part of a wide political crackdown waged by then-President Anwar Sadat. While in jail, Saadawi wrote down her experience in a book entitled: Memoirs from the Women’s Prison, using a roll of toilet paper and a cosmetic pencil.
Saadawi was the founder and head of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights.