Inji Aflatun


Inji Aflatun
(إنجي أفلاطون) (1924-1989) was born into an aristocratic family in Cairo. Educated at the French Lycee, she began painting at an early age. Her mother had wanted to send her to Paris to study art but was concerned about her daughter's political interests. Soon after Aflatun's first exhibition in 1942 she joined the Communist group called al-Sharara, also known as Iskra.

She went to Paris in 1945, not as an art student, but as a member of the Egyptian delegation to the World Congress of Women sponsored by the Democratic Federation of Women. That same year she helped found the University and Institutes Youth League and became a member of the National Executive of Workers and Students and the National Women's Committee.

In 1948, she wrote Thananun Maliyun Imraa Maana (Eighty Million Women With Us), a strong indictment of imperialism for which the Egyptian writer and Egyptian University dean, Taha Husain wrote a preface. In 1949, she published Nahnu al-Nisa al-Misriyyat (We Egyptian Women) which was an analysis of women's oppression and national oppression.

She joined the Movement of the Friends of Peace (Harakat ansar aI-salam) in 1950 where she met Saiza Nabarawi of the Egyptian Feminist Union. Aflatun joined the youth group of the EFU working with poor women in Cairo. When fighting broke out in the Canal Zone in 1951 she joined the Popular Committee of Women's Resistance.

After the revolution of 1952, Aflatun continued her earlier writing for the liberal Wafdist paper, Al-Misri, and also wrote for al-Masa. She worked with the Popular Committee of Women's during a massive round-up of Communists she was arrested and imprisoned. She continued to paint in prison preserving a powerful vIsual record of women's prison experience at AI-Kanatar, where  al-Saadawi was later imprisoned.

She was released in 1963. In 1 975, at the start of the International Decade of Women, she helped organise, and participated in the large exhibition, 'Women Painters over Half a Century'. The Egyptian Ministry of Culture sponsored her final exhibition in December 1987. A member of Tagammu, a leftist opposition party, she was writing her memoirs when she died suddenly in 1989.

(From Opening the Gates)

Publications: (Arabic)

  • Thalathoun Maliyun Imraa Maana (Eighty Million Women With Us). Cairo: 1948. -  80 ثلاثون مليون إمرأة معنا
  • Nahnu al-Nisa al-Misriyyat (We Egyptian Women). Cairo: 1949. - نحن النساء المصريات


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