Prof Cynthia Nelson, director of the Gender and Women's Studies Programme at the American University of Cairo in Egypt, recently visited UCT at the invitation of the African Gender Institute (AGI).
During her stay, Nelson did a presentation on her ongoing research into gender issues in the Arab world. More specifically, she talked about her book, Doria Shafik, Egyptian Feminist: A Woman Apart, a "labour of love" in which she recounted the story of the activist, editor and author who over decades challenged numerous social, cultural and legal barriers to gender equality in Egypt.
Although virtually unknown in the West, Shafik's role in Egyptian political and social life elevated her to such notoriety in her home country that she was placed under house arrest by president Gamal Nasser in 1957. After years of seclusion, she committed suicide in 1975.