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FEMINISTS & LIBERALS(if they're are any): Please Read

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Egyptian Feminist Union, 1923-1939

Sourced from Wikipedia. 

The first phase of the feminist movement is considered to have taken place between (1923–1939). The Egyptian Feminist Union (EFU) was founded by the former leader of the women's committee in the Wafd party, Hoda Shaarawi. This led to her participation in an international Feminist Conference in Rome and upon her return, along with Nabawiyya Musa and Ceza Nabarwi, Shaarawi caused outrage in the gesture that she made against the Egyptian authorities and traditions by throwing her veil into the sea. This act caused a particular scandal for Shaarawi was the wife of an eminent Pasha. However she was able to inspire other women to cast off their veils.[6]

The EFU was concerned with education, social welfare, and changes in private law in order to provide equality between Egyptian men and women. It viewed the social problems of Egypt, such as poverty, prostitution, illiteracy, and poor health conditions, not as a result of a specific socioeconomic structure, but rather due to the neglect of the state in its responsibilities towards its people.[7]The movement believed that the state had a responsibility to maintain the morality of the nation, as well as its welfare. However it defined the issues concerning women only from the narrow and class based perspective of upper class women.[7]

This is particularly evident in the feminist journal L'Egyptienne published by the EFU. Written and published in French, the journal was only accessible to the French speaking Egyptians who were mostly members of the upper classes. However the issues discussed in the magazine included Turkish reforms regarding women, which had influenced Egyptian women and Islam. The journal editor Ceza Nebarawi stated in 1927 that "we the Egyptian Feminists, have a great respect for our religion. In wanting to see it practised in its true spirit".[8] Another journal, published 1937, was called el-Masreyyah (The Egyptian Woman).

Although the new Constitution of 1924 had made some changes to the position of women such as raising the age of marriage for girls to sixteen, the question of women's political rights was ignored as was the right to divorce and abolition of polygamy. In 1935 Hoda Shaarawi lectured at the American University of Cairo on the status of women and called for the abolition of polygamy. Her speech was met with protest from two Sheiks from the Al-Azhar University. However, according to Kumari Jayawordena the audience sided with Shaarawi which was symbolic of the changing educated opinion.[1] Her speech was in fact met with such enthusiasm that it was printed in a leading newspaper and thus widely circulated through the Arabic speaking world.[9] The rise of feminism was however stunted in Egypt by its remaining elitist nature and class bias. Its limited appeal was not fairly representative of the situation of most women in Egypt. It is claimed that to some extent the movement "followed the political practices of most parties in Egypt during the 1920s – 1930s, which regarded politics as the prerogative of the educated elite".[7] Feminist activism began to slow down particularly due to the climate of political opinion and criticism as a result of the movement increased

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