(Image credit: Sarah Jane Moon for TIME; Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo/Alamy)
In celebration of International Women’s Day, today, the 8th of March, Time Magazine has shed light on the most powerful women of the century as part of its ‘100 Women of the Year’ project. “Women were wielding soft power long before the concept was defined”, said former TIME editor-in-chief, Nancy Gibbs.
We feel proud that the cover art features Egyptian psychiatrist and novelist, Nawal El Saadawi, who was incarcerated in 1981 for her feminist views that included her outcry against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She published several books, including Women and Sex (1972), The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World (1977), and Memoirs from the Women’s Prison (1983), as well as novels including Woman at Point Zero (1973). These books have paved the way for women’s liberation in Egypt and the Middle East, and they continue to stand as strong symbols of unwavering feminism.
“Every morning, I did my gymnastics. I danced, I sang. One of the prostitutes who came with our jailer to bring our breakfast smuggled an eye pencil to me, and I wrote my memoirs with it on toilet paper,” recounted El Saadawi of her time in prison to The Guardian. Later, after President Muhammed Anwar El Sadat was assassinated in 1981, El Saadawi was freed from prison, but she did not go quietly and sued the government for wrongful imprisonment during the reign of President Muhammed Hosny Mubarak.
El Saadawi was born on the 27th of October, 1931 in the small Egyptian village of Kafr Tahla, where she was the second of nine children. She graduated from Cairo University in 1955 with a degree in medicine. After a life of both hardship and triumph, she is more than deserving of commemoration.
You can purchase Time’s cover art here.