Remembering Pioneering Women

One of WMF’s earliest projects has aimed at reviving and retrieving the memory of pioneering Egyptian women who have been forgotten or marginalized in mainstream history. This has generally been achieved by reprinting their published works and holding conferences that attempt to situate them and their contribution in the cultural scene. So far, WMF has organized four conferences to remember Malak Hifni Nassif (1886-1918), Nabawiyya Musa (1886-1951), Aisha Taymur (1840-1902) and Qadriyya Husayn. The proceedings of the first three conferences have also been published as edited volumes by WMF.

For a list: visit our Publications page.

Comemorative Conferences

Qadriyya Husayn and Issues of Belonging

As part of the series of conferences aiming at reviving collective memory in its comprehensive sense, the Women and Memory Forum held a conference entitled “Qadriyya Husayn and Issues of Belonging,” 2-3 October, 2005, at the Greater Cairo Library. On the occasion of the conference, WMF republished her book Famous Women of the Islamic World, first published in 1924. The conference was held as part of the cultural project of the Women and Memory Forum that aims at shedding light on the intellectual achievements of pioneering women in Egyptian and Arab history and their contribution to the cultural scene.

Remembering Nabawiyya Musa

WMF held a commemorative conference on Nabawaiyya Musa as an example of a pioneering Egyptian woman who played a significant role in modern Egyptian history, especially in the field of education, and whose name—like others—disappeared from the nation’s memory. The conference was held at the Great Cairo Library, 22-23 June, 1999. In 1907, Nabawiyya Musa was the first Egyptian girl to obtain a high school certificate. She was also the first woman to approach the issue of the education of girls as a national cause. Papers dealing with a variety of subjects and methodologies were presented at this conference, shedding light on Nabawiya and her achievements in the general context of the Egyptian political and cultural scene at the time. On the occasion of the conference, WMF republished Nabawiya Musa’s autobiographical work Tarikhi bi qalami (My History).

‘Aisha Taymur: Challenges of Change and Continuity in the Nineteenth Century

WMF held a conference on “Aisha Taymur: Challenges of Change and Continuity in the Nineteenth Century”, 9-10 May, 2002, at the Mubarak Public Library in Giza. The conference aimed at reviving the memory of a pioneering woman who greatly influenced cultural life in Egypt, as well as shedding light on a transitional period in Egyptian history- with all its significant changes and transformations on the Arab cultural level. This period witnessed heated controversies in political and cultural circles on the desired relation between authenticity and contemporaniety, between the East and the West. Many debates took place on the meaning of the “modern” society, the ideal image of men and women, issues related to language, literary genres and the arts, as well as ideological beliefs and political loyalties. WMF republished Aisha Taymur’s book, Mir’at al-ta’mmul fi al-umur (Reflections on Issues), as well as the proceeedings of the conference.

Remembering Malak Hifni Nasif (1886 – 1918)

In 1998, WMF held a conference to commemorate Malak Hifni Nasif (1886 – 1918). The event was held at the Great Cairo Library, 17 -18 October. Researchers from Egypt and abroad presented papers on Malak Hifni Nasif as a pioneering feminist within the context of modernity and feminism in early 20th century Egypt. In addition to the presentations and discussions, WMF held a book-launch reception at the end of the conference to celebrate the re-publication of Nasif’s book Al-nisa’iyat. WMF also published the proceedings of the conference.

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