Nawal el Saadawi is one of the foremost Egyptian writers. A doctor by profession, she has written over 40 books of fiction and non-fiction, which have been translated into 30 languages. Since her very first novel, written in her twenties, she has taken on some of the most difficult, challenging, controversial subjects, including: female genital mutilation, domestic violence, child marriage, prostitution, the impact of war on women and children, so-called ‘honour killing’ and the laws that maintain women’s status as minors.
It is not surprising perhaps that this has made her many powerful enemies. She has been forced out of employment, she was imprisoned by the Egyptian authorities in the 1980s and in the 1990s she lived under serious death threats from religious fundamentalists. Indeed, she was forced into exile. But now she is back in Egypt where, although now in her eighties, she took an active role in the demonstrations in Tahrir Square last Spring and continues to fight to ensure that women’s rights are part of the political settlement in Egypt. Her writing and activism are seen by women around the world as a beacon of light and she has received many awards, literary and academic.
This interview was recorded at a conference in London organised by IKWRO, the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, which works to end honour killing and sexual violence against women.