Egyptian writer, activist, and physician Nawal El Saadawi has died at age 89 on March 21, 2021.
Saadawi’s daughter, Mona Helmi, tells Al Jazeera that her mother passed away in a hospital in Cairo after prolonged illness. Saadawi is survived by her daughter, Mona, and son, Atef Hatata.
Nawal El Saadawi devoted her life and work to exposing the oppression of patriarchy, imperialism, and classism as underlying causes of women’s physical and psychological trauma in her country and around the world. She was the founder of feminist magazine المواجهة (Confrontation) and The Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, which she formed in the Qanatir Women’s Prison where she was held for criticizing the Egyptian government.
In addition to Saadawi’s medical practice and political activism, she authored over 60 books translated into 40 languages throughout her life. The novel, Woman at Point Zero (1975), and memoir, Memoirs From a Women’s Prison (1984), are among her most notable works.
Saadawi faced public and political persecution for her activism, but she never stopped writing. She wrote in Memoirs from a Women’s Prison,
Writing: such has been my crime ever since I was a small child. To this day writing remains my crime.
Writers and readers around the world took to Twitter on Sunday to pay tribute to Saadawi’s legacy. See some of their reflections below:
They said, “You are a savage and dangerous woman.”
“I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous," Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero
Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi has died. Until I gather my thoughts: rest in power, Nawal.
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) March 21, 2021
Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician, psychiatrist Nawal El Saadawi has left us. She was a powerhouse of courage and clarity.
When she blurbed my novel WHO FEARS DEATH, I cried. Woman at Point Zero was a HUGE influence on this novel.
…and now I'm crying again. 😔 pic.twitter.com/hJkwk7JnRH
— Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) March 21, 2021
So sad to learn that Egyptian feminist writer, thinker, activist Nawal El Saadawi has passed away. I can never forget Woman At Point Zero. Such a sad loss for our region, our world. Rest in peace, rest in power, sisterhood and books… #NawalElSaadawi pic.twitter.com/pAjxNqvTuS
— Elif Shafak (@Elif_Safak) March 21, 2021
photo by Malefestivalen via Flickr