Nawal El Saadawi at Emirates LitFest 2012

Nawal El Saadawi cr Mona HelmyHot on the heels of International Women’s Day, we are privileged to welcome a true whirlwind of action and creativity, the internationally renowned writer and feminist, Nawal El Saadawi, in conversation about her life and writing.

Nawal trained as a doctor, graduating in 1955 from Cairo University and later becoming Cairo’s Director of Public Health, as well as teaching at many universities worldwide. She became politically active while practising medicine, attributing women’s problems to various forms of oppression, a subject covered in many of her novels, plays, short stories and non-fiction, which are all characterised by the same passion and directness she has brought to every aspect of her multi-faceted life.

Nawal has founded or co-founded various associations, including the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association (AWSA) and the Egyptian Women Writer’s Association. Named by the Guardian as ‘the leading spokeswoman on the status of women in the Arab world’, in 2011, she won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Women of the Year Awards in London, and was presented with La Federación de Mujeres Progresistas (FMP) [Progressive Women's Federation] in Madrid and The University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award.

More about Arabic literature, society and culture

If you are interested in more great writers from the Arab world, check out Mourid Barghouti and Ibrahim Al Koni; and for two very different approaches to writing about the state of modern Egypt take a look at Ahmed Khaled Towfik and Ahmed Mourad's joint session.

Sociologists Samir and Roseanne Saad Khalaf, meanwhile, have recently published two books on Arabic Society and Culture. Arab Society and Culture: An Essential Reader (to which Nawal contributed) is a collection of essays from major writers on a wide range of subjects, while Arab Youth: Social Mobilization in Times of Risk provides scholarly insight into the social and political changes facing young people in the Arab world.

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