Huda Sha‘rawi (Arabic: هدى شعراوي - June 23, 1879 – December 12, 1947) was a pioneering Egyptian feminist leader and nationalist(which means something different in this case from what we are witnessing now in the US).
Forced into her first marriage at 13 and later into a harem in which she was not allowed to leave her home without accompaniment, she used her education to make herself more independent.
In 1910 she opened a school for girls to educate them beyond basic skills that were expected of women.
She organized protests against British rule, was the founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union, the founding President of the Arab Feminist Union, and was Vice-President of the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship in 1935.
Her most famous act is as follows:
Sha’rawi made a decision to stop wearing her veil in public after her husband’s death in 1922. This was revolutionary behavior in a time when women were fully covered except in the fields in the country.
In March 1923, Sha’rawi founded and became the first president of the Egyptian Feminist Union. After returning from the International Woman Suffrage Alliance Congress in Rome she removed her face veil in public for the first time, a signal event in the history of Egyptian feminism.
An note that interested me on the Pro-Choice Washington Blog as run by NARAL: Quick PSA on headscarves: It is important — especially for Western feminists — to understand that women who wear headscarves do it out of their own volition and comfort. People like Huda helped them win that freedom. To say that wearing a headscarf signifies oppression is not only inaccurate, it denies women their agency if they do choose to veil. The now infamous “Veil Ban” law in France is a testament to the damage that misunderstandings around perceived vs. actual oppression can cause. Read more about her here: https://afrolegends.com/…/huda-shaarawi-egypts-great-feminis