The role of women in the fight for Egyptian independence
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Egypt achieved independence from Britain as a result of the Egyptian Revolution (1919-1923). During this revolution, the Egyptian nationalist movement was formally established by the Wafd party, a congress type of political organization that traditionally has received the credit for the success of the Egyptian nationalistic cause. However, at the end of 1921 the leaders of the male leaders of the Wafd were exiled by the British government, leaving the Wafdist Women's Central Committee (WWCC) headed by Huda Sharawi in command of the battle for Independence. This organization became a powerful, organized group involved in economic boycotts, public demonstrations, and the supplying of information to Wafd exiles. These women also kept up morale, passed political resolutions, served as liaisons between the British officials and the exiles, and maintained a stream of political protests until March 1923. This study argues that by using the very spaces to which they were confined, the harem and religious places of worship, the women of the WWCC greatly contributed to the success of Egyptian nationalist activity. Using archival data and interviews, my paper uncovers the accomplishments of these seldom recognized, revolutionary women who mobilized the Egyptian nationalist cause against Western domination in the absence of the established male leadership and who then were forgotten quickly by the very government they helped to found. I conclude that the traditional view that the Wafd was responsible for the success of nationalist activity during the fight for Egyptian independence is inadequate for it overlooks the tremendous contributions of the WWCC and Egyptian women.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 45).
Reynolds, Jennifer (1999). The role of women in the fight for Egyptian independence. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from