Throughout the ages, from the earliest days of Islam to contemporary times today, Muslim women have been and continue to be active leaders in their communities and countries across the world. This directory is a growing archive of leading Muslim women scholars, activists, writers, politicians, artists, religious and spiritual leaders, civil society leaders and more. Please contribute to this archive by suggesting Muslim women to be featured through our recommendation form.
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My work with women, with children, with the poor, is, in fact, the very essence of Islam. Why should I be invisible just because I am a woman?
Jehan Sadat, A Woman of Egypt
Known For: Associate Resident Scholar at the University of Maryland
Dates: Hijri 1351 AH – Present
Common Era 1933 CE – Present
Former first lady of Egypt, Jehan Sadat has played a key role in advancing women’s rights and education, both in her native Egypt and globally.
Born in Cairo to an Egyptian father and a British mother, the young Jehan married the future President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, in 1949. In the late 1970s, she played a pivotal role in reforming Egypt’s civil code through the Egyptian Civil Rights Laws, which expanded the rights of women in regards to alimony and divorce. In 1972, Jehan Sadat founded Wafa’ Wal Amal (Faith and Hope) which provides rehabilitation, skills training, and other social services to war veterans and civilians. It is one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the Middle East. Jehan Sadat earned her bachelor’s degree in Arabic Literature; she earned both her master’s degree and her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Cairo University.
As the founder of the African-Arab Women’s League, Jehan Sadat has attended numerous conferences and seminars as an advocate for women and children. She is also one of the founding members of the Talla Society, a cooperative that trains and equips women with practical skills to help them become economically independent and self-sufficient. In addition, she authored two books, A Woman of Egypt and My Hope for Peace.
Jehan Sadat is now an Associate Resident Scholar at the University of Maryland, where the Anwar Sadat Chair for Development and Peace was created in her late husband’s memory.
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