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Meaningful Quotes from Arab Women During the 20th Century

posted on: Dec 17, 2020

By: Clara Jude/Arab America Contributing Writer                    The 20th century marks a turning point for females around the world. Throughout this time women stood up and made their voices heard. They began to come together in the fight for their rights. Many important females used their fame to create a platform for change.

There are many Arab women who are influential and powerful. They should be acknowledged for their achievements. Below are just some of the remarkable Arab women who were successful in their jobs and prominent in their spheres. They were fruitful in introducing positive changes to their society and made a difference in the way they and others live their lives.

Fatema Mernissi (September 1940- November 2015)

Meaningful Quotes from Arab Women During the 20th Century

“Happiness, she would explain, was when a person felt good, light, creative, content, loving and loved, and free. An unhappy person felt as if there were barriers crushing her desires and the talents she had inside. A happy woman was one who could exercise all kinds of rights, from the right to move to the right to create, compete, and challenge, and at the same time could be loved for doing so.” -Fatema Mernissi, Dreams Of Trespass: Tales Of A Harem Girlhood

Fatema Mernissi, Moroccan sociologist and writer, was a pioneer in the field of Islamic feminism and argued for social justice for women in Morocco and beyond. Some of Mernissi’s scholarly books include Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society, and Le Harem politique: le Prophète et les femmes. 

Sameera Moussa (March 1917-August 1952)

“I will make nuclear treatment as available as aspirin.”

Sameera Moussa was a nuclear scientist who dedicated her life to make medical nuclear power affordable to all. Moussa arranged the Atomic Energy for Peace Conference.  A pioneer in her field, she was honored and awarded posthumously by the Egyptian Army, and former President Anwar Sadat. In 1952, however, she was killed when her car plummeted from a height of 40 feet after being invited somewhere in California, following a visit to the US. Her death is shrouded in conspiracy, with some blaming the Mossad or other intelligence organizations for her death. The driver of her car disappeared and the the invitation she had received turned out to be false.

Huda Sha’arawi (June 1879-December 1947)

“Men have singled out women of outstanding merit and put them on a pedestal to avoid recognizing the capabilities of all women.”

Huda Shaarawi (1879–1947) was an Egyptian feminist who influenced not only women in Egypt but throughout the Arab world. She was a pioneer in feminism, and brought to light the restrictive world of upper-class women in her book The Harem Years, published in 1987.

Ghada al-Samman (1942- )

“The liberated woman is not that modern doll who wears make-up and tasteless clothes. ….The liberation woman is a person who believes that she is as human as a man. The liberated woman does not insist on her freedom so as to abuse it.”

Ghada Al-Samman is a Syrian writer, journalist and novelist born in Damascus in 1942 to a prominent and conservative Damascene family, she is remotely related to Nizar Qabbani the famous poet. Her father was Ahmed Al-Samman, a president of the Syrian University. She was deeply influenced by him since her mother died at a very young age.

Faten Hamama (May 1931-January 2015)

Meaningful Quotes from Arab Women During the 20th Century

“Art and acting is not only about famous and publicity, it’s more serious business. If everyone does their work seriously with respect, they will be proud of it.”

Faten Hamama is one of Egypt’s and the Arab world’s most prominent producers and actresses and was chosen as ‘Star of the Century’ by the Egyptian Writers and Critics organization at the 2001 Alexandria International Film Festival. Today, she remains to be regarded as one of the most important and inspiring actresses in the history of Arab cinema and is commonly known as ‘The Lady of the Arab Cinema.’

These are just a few of the Arab world’s successful and prominent women. All of them deserve to be recognized, as their contributions to the world are significant and important.

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