Malak Hifni Nasif: Education is the key
I think I got stuck on that topic. I couldn’t see those things we take for granted as education, work, and even clothes, women a few years ago couldn’t just think about. So let’s talk about a woman leader who believed that education was the key to women liberation.
Malak Hifni Nasif was born in December 1886 in Cairo. She was the daughter of the Egyptian poet Hifni Nasif El-Qadi who raised her to be a strong and well-educated woman. So by the year 1900, she was the first Egyptian girl to receive a Primary certificate. She was a successful student who was good enough to be employed as a teacher for girls in Al Amiriyyah school.
Malak was living the problems of her society: early marriage, polygamy, and deprivation of education. Her belief that education was the first step in social reform drove her to visit friends’ and relatives’ homes persuading them to send their daughters to schools. Then she chose writing and poetry to pursue her message. She wrote articles and poems in reputational magazines. Her topics were about educating girls to secondary school, providing them a chance to work, guiding women and family matters.
She had a mission to defend women’s rights facing potential accusations of deserting society values and imitating the west. Hence, she drew upon an attentiveness scheme in her message.
Regarding education and work, Malak believed that women should be independent of men and support them not to represent a burden. She ensured: she wasn’t encouraging women to abundant housework and raising children for work. However, every woman should have the right to work if she ever wanted. All of that could only be accomplished if women become well-educated and intellectual.
In terms of marriage, she said: “Every woman has the right to see her partner before marriage. They have to marry when they are aware of the full responsibility that comes with marriage. By all means, that shouldn’t be before sixteen”.
I won’t be exaggerating when I say that Malak was a beacon defending women. She founded a nursing association to send supplies to distressed areas in Egypt and neighboring countries, a nursing school, a workshop, and an orphanage for poor girls.
When she died with the Spanish flu in 1918, women gathered at the Egyptian University to grief her, headed by Huda Saharawi.
So every time I say a young girl going to school, I feel like Malak Hifni Nasif would be there she would have been proud that she was part of this.
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