Renowned Egyptian author, Nawal El Saadawi, an outspoken champion of women’s rights in the Arab world, has died at the age of 89, her family said.
According to the deceased daughter, Mona Helmy, she said El Saadawi passed away in a Cairo hospital after suffering a long illness.
Until her death, Saadawi was a leading feminist who revolutionised discussions on gender in deeply conservative societies.
Born in the village of Kafir Tahla in 1931, El Saadawi rose to prominence in 1972 with her taboo-breaking book, Women and Sex.
She carved a niche for herself with her 1975 translated novel, Women at Point Zero.
With more than 55 books to her name, she was briefly jailed by late President Anwar Sadat and also condemned by Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Muslim authority in Egypt.
“I write in Arabic. All my books are in Arabic and then they are translated. My role is to change my people,” El Saadawi, who faced many death threats throughout her life said.
Saadawi graduated as a medical doctor in 1955 from Cairo University.
She got married to Ahmed Helmi, whom she met as a fellow student in medical school.
Saadawi through her medical practice, observed women’s physical and psychological problems and connected them with oppressive cultural practices, patriarchal oppression, class oppression and imperialist oppression.
Her literary contributions cut across all genres which include, novels, films, plays among others.
Notable among her works are: Memoirs of a Woman Doctor (Cairo, 1958), The Absent One (Cairo, 1969), Two Women in One (Cairo, 1971) Woman at Point Zero, (Beirut, 1973) The Death of the Only Man on Earth (Beirut, 1975), The Children’s Circling Song (Beirut, 1976) The Fall of the Imam (Cairo, 1987)9 Ganat and the Devil (Beirut, 1991), Love in the Kingdom of Oil (Cairo, 1993),The Novel (Cairo: Dar El Hilal Publishers, 2004) and Zeina(Beirut: Dar Al Saqi, 2009).