Google Doodle just honored Doria Shafik on the anniversary of her birth in 1908
Google Doodle has paid homage to Doria Shafik, one of the principal leaders of the Egyptian women's liberation movement in the 1940s, and the reason women in the country have the right to vote.
Today is her birthday. Here's a closer look at Shafik: a feminist, a philosopher and a writer.
1. Shafik organized 1,500 women and stormed parliament in 1951
In 1951, she organized 1,500 women from the Bint Al Nil Union, which she had formed, and the Egyptian Feminist Union to storm parliament.
The women shocked the male lawmakers with their audacity and asked for the body to address the socioeconomic rights of Egypt's women.Although the men agreed to address their concerns, little action followed.
Shafik was undeterred and continued the struggle.
2. She is credited with gaining Egyptian women the right to vote
Three years later, Shafik undertook an eight day hunger strike at Egypt's press syndicate. This move was in protest of the creation of a constitutional committee without any women. After receiving a letter from President Naguib, affirming his commitment to ensuring women's rights, she ended the strike and received worldwide attention.
As a result, she was invited to lecture around the world about the ambitions of Egyptian women. Women were granted the right to vote in 1956 under the new Egyptian constitution.
This was largely credited to Shafik's efforts. But there was a caveat, women were required to be literate to vote, whereas men were not.
Nonetheless, this was a landmark moment for feminism in Egypt.
3. Shafik was the youngest person in Egypt to receive a French baccalaureate
Born to a middle class family, Shafik started breaking barriers at an early age.
She attended a French school and became the youngest person in Egypt to receive a French baccalaureate at the age of 16. She also ranked second in the country on the exam.
4. She went on to become an academic, studying in Paris
Wanting to pursue her education, she turned to Hoda Shara'awi, a pioneering feminist. Shara'awi helped Shafik obtain a scholarship from the Egyptian government to attend the elite Sorbonne university in Paris.
Studying in Paris surrounded her with a vibrant world of ideas at a time when the city was brimming with culture, philosophy and art. She later went on to complete her PhD studies at Sorbonne as well, writing two theses. One of these refuted the merely utilitarian ends generally associated with Ancient Egyptian art, and the second argued that Islam amply recognizes women's equal rights.
5. She was labeled "too modern" when she returned to Egypt
Seeking a job at Cairo University upon completion of her PhD, Shafik was denied the position because she was "too modern."
Instead, she was offered a position as the editor-in-chief of Femme Nouvelle, a French language literary and cultural magazine. She went on to found an Arabic magazine called Bint Al Nil that aimed to educate women and encourage them to be involved in society.
She went on to form the Bint Al Nil Union, a feminist organization.
6. Shafik also competed in Miss Egypt
In between her undergraduate and PhD studies, Shafik returned to Egypt for a few years and competed in the Miss Egypt pageant. She was the runner-up in the pageant and received criticism for participating.
As a young, well-educated Muslim women, her participation was seen as inappropriate by many. Speaking about her decision to compete she said: "In Paris I had asserted myself in the intellectual sphere. Now I wanted to assert myself in the feminine sphere."
7. Shafik also fought against British occupation
Wanting to rid the country of British governance, Shafik joined forces with the nationalist movement. She formed Egypt's first female military unit with some 2,000 women trained to carry out essential nursing duties at the front lines.
8. In 1957, she undertook a second hunger strike
This time, Shafik was protesting what she saw as dictatorial governance by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Due to her criticism, Nasser put Shafik under house arrest and banned her magazine from circulation.
This was the end of Shafik's public life and activism. Even after her house arrest, she remained withdrawn from society while her political movement continued. She spent the last years of her life with family, writing and studying.
9. Shafik died in 1975 at the age of 66
But her legacy endures as feminists in Egypt and around the world continue the struggle for equality and recognition.