Nawal El Saadawy: Mother of Egypt’s revolution

Exiled from Egypt several times as a result of her opposition to President Hosni Mubaraks’s regime, Nawal el Saadawi was in Cairo in January  when the demonstrations began in January.

The renowned doctor, feminist and psychologist who has fought for change for more than half a century, was imprisoned and prevented from writing for many years.

Hailed as "mother of the revolution’ she has been outspoken about the need to ensure women remained at the heart of the revolution.

Speaking on Al Jazeera, Nawal el Saadawy, who will be at the Frontline Club on her 80th birthday, said in February that there could be no democracy without women "because women are half the society, or more than half the society":

"So how can you have democracy without half the society? How can you have a revolution, how can you have justice, how can you have freedom without half the society?"

Asked if she trusted the military to keep their promise that they would pave the way to true democracy, Nawal El Sadaawi said:

I trust the power of the millions who obliged Mubarak to fall. I trust the millions, that’s democracy. We don’t need one man or one woman to govern us. We will have a collective revolutionary leadership. That’s the patriarchal capitalist mentality that we should have one person leading the country, leading the revolution. This is patriarchy and capitalism and imperialism.

But we will have a radical change, we will have collective leadership, men and women equal, Christians and Muslims, all Egyptians, will be represented in the leadership, as well as in every government, every committee, in everything. So, in fact, it’s a revolution, it changes life.

You can also hear her talking to Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman about the Egyptian revolution, the fall of Hosni Mubarak and the opportunities for women in the Arab Spring. 

Book tickets to see Nawal el Saadawy in conversation with the BBC’s Razia Iqbal