Layla Baalbakki


An Egyptian Muslim, Malak Hifni Nassif (1886 - 1918: ملك حفني ناصف) (pseudonym: Bahithat al-Badiya, باحثة البادية) publicly advocated women's advancement in the early twentieth century during the al-nahda al-nisa?iyya (women's awakening). This was a period in which women were increasingly able to publish essays, stories, and letters in the nascent women's press and also in the general press.

The women's press and the writers who contributed to it played an important role in the development offeminism and the reform of social institutions in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Nassif, along with other prominent figures such as May Ziadeh, were active in literary and social groups through which they contributed to the intellectual and public debate about nationalism and how to define Egyptian and Arab political and cultural identity under the British colonial government.

Nassif articulated one of the founding discourses of feminism that emerged in Egypt during the first third of the twentieth century. Her strain of feminism remained secondary to that embodied in the work of Huda al-Sha?rawi (1882 - 1947) until the final decades of the twentieth century.

In contrast to Sha?rawi's secular and Western-oriented feminism, Nassif's feminism, expressed in her collection of talks and essays, Al-nisa?iyyat (Women's affairs, 1910), de-emphasized Western values as it attempted to affirm and improve women's lives and experience through increased educational and work opportunities within a reformed Islamic context.

(From website)

Publications: (Arabic)

  • Nisa'iyat (Womenly). Two volumes of her articles. Cairo:1925.

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