It was a landmark day when prominent women’s rights activist Doria Shafiq bravely led a march of 1,500 women to storm the gates of Parliament on 19 February 1951. After several hours of unrelenting protest, Shafiq was finally received inside the office, where the council agreed to consider the demands of Egyptian women.
Along with her predecessors, including Hoda Shaarawi, Nabawiya Moussa and Ceza Nabarawi, Shafiq remains one of the leading pioneers of the women’s liberation movement in Egypt during the early 20th century. Her march to Parliament later led to the inclusion of women’s suffrage in the 1956 Constitution.
But, despite her many feats, Shafiq is likely to be forgotten in the minds of future generations in Egypt.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported in January that the 2013–2014 editions of National Education textbooks had been edited to delete the picture of Doriya Shafiq and pictures of those killed during the 25 January revolution. The article also noted that Shafiq’s image was removed from a high-school textbook because she was not veiled.
But, as the subversion of Egyptian women continues, local human rights activists have become more creative in their fight for women’s equality, representation and rights.
Seen through local street art collectives like Noon El Neswa, the Mona Lisa Brigades and various independent efforts, a new wave of gender-sensitive street art and visual campaigns seeks to challenge the low status of Egyptian women by painting them in a positive light.
“They are already deleting female activists from our history books,” says Shady Khalil, the co-founder of Noon El Neswa, a gender-sensitive street art collective. “In order to help reverse the effects of this and many other attacks on women’s rights, we have been creating graffiti campaigns with the purpose of reclaiming women’s rightful position in public spaces.” ( Maha ElNabawi/Egypt independent)