Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation

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International Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Egypt, 1904-1923

International Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Egypt, 1904-1923: A Reappraisal of Categories and Legacies

This paper situates the Egyptian Feminist Union within the context of the social, political and economic changes that were taking place in Egypt and the organization’s participation in the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance (IWSA). Important commonalities are drawn between the aspirations and demands of Western women and Eastern women that were expressed through national associations, such as the (EFU), the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) or the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (NUWSS-Great Britain) and internationally through the IWSA. The paper critiques prevailing paradigms for understanding Western and Eastern feminists, which, on the one hand, attach the label “Orientalist” to British and American feminists and on the other, accuse the feminists of the EFU of “Westernization” and it suggests other possible models and paradigms. The paper also shows how feminist goals for women as articulated by their national associations converged under the international umbrella of the IWSA and made international cooperation possible. The focus of this paper is the 1923 meeting of the IWSA in Rome, which was the first conference that an Egyptian delegation headed by Sha`rawi attended.

Mary Ann Fay is associate professor of history at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Her articles have appeared in journals such as the International Journal of Middle East Studies and the Journal of Women’s History. She is the editor of Auto/Biography and the Creation of Identity and Community in the Middle East.

Mary Ann Fay
Published Date: 
Political and Public Participation