Citation
Interview with Nadia Abdel Wahab

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Nadia Abdel Wahab
Series Title:
Middle East Women's Activism
Alternate Title:
مقابلة مع نادية عبد الوهاب العفيفي
Creator:
Abdel Wahab, Nadia ( Interviewee )
عبد الوهاب العفيفي ، نادية ( contributor )
Pratt, Nicola Christine ( contributor )
Place of Publication:
Cairo, Egypt
Publication Date:
Language:
Arabic

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Women's activism ( UW-MEWA )
Women -- Political activity ( LCSH )
Egypt ( LCSH )
Arab Spring (2010-) ( LCSH )
الربيع العربي (2010-) ( UW-MEWA )
University of Cairo ( UW-MEWA )
Jāmiʻat al-Qāhirah ( LCSH )
جامعة القاهرة ( UW-MEWA )
Nationalist Democrat Student Movement (Egypt) ( UW-MEWA )
Women's reproductive health ( UW-MEWA )
Reproductive health ( LCSH )
National Council for Women (Egypt) ( UW-MEWA )
Majlis al-Qawmī lil-Marʾah (Egypt) ( LCSH )
المجلس القومي للمرأة (مصر) ( EGAXA )
Democracy ( LCSH )
January 25 2011 Revolution (Egypt) ( UW-MEWA )
حزب التجمع الوطني التقدمي الوحدوي ( UW-MEWA )
ثورة 25 ياناير 2011 (مصر) ( UW-MEWA )
Jamʻīyat al-Ikhwān al-Muslimīn (Egypt) ( LCSH )
Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt) ( UW-MEWA )
جمعيات الإخوان المسلمين (مصر) ( UW-MEWA )
Mubárak, Muhammad Husní, 1928-2020 -- Resignation ( LCSH )
مبارك ، محمد حسني ، 1928-2020 -- الاستقالة ( EGAXA )
Egyptian Social Democratic Party ( UW-MEWA )
الحزب المصرى الديمقراطى الاجتماعى ( UW-MEWA )
Women's rights ( LCSH )
Female genital mutilation ( UW-MEWA )
Female circumcision ( LCSH )
ختان الإناث ( UW-MEWA )
New Woman Foundation ( UW-MEWA )
مؤسسة المرأة الجديدة ( UW-MEWA )
International Conference on Population and Development (1994 : Cairo, Egypt) ( LCSH )
World Conference on Women (4th : 1995 : Beijing, China) ( LCSH )
CEDAW ( UW-MEWA )
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979 December 18) ( LCSH )
ﺍﺗﻔﺎﻗﻴﺔ ﺍﻟﻘﻀﺎﺀ ﻋﻠﻰ ﲨﻴﻊ ﺃﺷﻜﺎﻝ ﺍﻟﺘﻤﻴﻴﺰ ﺿﺪ ﺍﳌﺮﺃﺓ (1979 ديسمبر 18) ( UW-MEWA )
Law reform ( LCSH )
Marriage age ( LCSH )
Mubārak, Sūzān ( LCSH )
مبارك، سوزان،‏ ‎1941- ( UW-MEWA )
Sādāt, Jīhān, 1933-
السادات، جيهان،‏ 1933- ( EGAXA )
Poverty ( LCSH )
Social justice ( LCSH )
Medicine ( LCSH )
Doctors' Syndicate ( UW-MEWA )
Niqābat al-Aṭibbāʼ (Egypt) ( LCSH )
نقابة أطباء مصر ( UW-MEWA )
Egypt. Nationality law ( UW-MEWA )
Citizenship ( LCSH )
Protests (Egypt : 2013 June 30) ( UW-MEWA )
Protests (Egypt : 2011-2013) ( LCSH )
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Egypt -- Cairo Governate -- Cairo
Coordinates:
30.033333 x 31.233333

Notes

Abstract:
Nadia was born on 25 January 1951 in Cairo. Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a policeman, who was posted to the countryside, where she grew up. Nadia studied medicine at Cairo University, during which time she participated in the student movement of 1972. After graduation, she worked as a doctor in the countryside and, later, was a co-founder of the New Woman study group, which later became the New Woman Foundation. Through her involvement with NWF, Nadia became interested in women’s reproductive health and violence against women, amongst other issues, and lobbying the government to make legal reforms in line with its CEDAW commitments. She was involved in the preparations for the UN International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. She helped launch the New Woman Magazine along with various projects focusing on awareness of women's reproductive health issues. Nadia was also involved with the Health and Environmental Development Association, some other associations concerned with health issues and a member of the Doctors’ Union. She participated in the 25 January 2011 uprising. Following the ousting of Mubarak, Nadia joined the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. At the time of the interview Nadia was elected as head of the women's secretariat and a member of the High Committee, the political office and the executive office, as well as continuing her work with the NWF. Nadia participated in 30 June 2013 protests against former president Morsi. ( en )
General Note:
Funding : Women's Activism in the Arab World (2013-2016). This project, funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, examines the significance of middle-class women's activism to the geo/politics of Arab countries, from national independence until the Arab uprisings. It was based on over 100 personal narratives of women activists of different generations from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
General Note:
Interview conducted on: 22 December 2013
General Note:
Duration: 1 hour, 1 minute and 58 seconds
General Note:
Language of interview: Arabic
General Note:
Audio transcription by Captivate Arabia, Amman, Jordan , info@captivatearabia.com
General Note:
آسيا -- مصر -- القاهرة -- القاهرة
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : Pratt, Nicola Christine : URI http://viaf.org/viaf/49147457

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Warwick
Rights Management:
© 2013 the Interviewer and Interviewee. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.

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Full Text
Interview with Nadia Abdel Wahab
2014
TAPE 1
Nicola Pratt: May I first ask, where and when were you born?
Nadia Abdel Wahhab: On January 14th, officially it is January 25th 1951... In Cairo.
N.P: Did you grow up in Cairo?
N.A: No, the first part of my life I grew up in the countryside, my father was a police officer and
he moved between town or villages, I didn't settle in Cairo until I was 16, before that I lived in
different villages across Egypt... in the "countryside".
N.P: And your father was...
N.A: A police officer
N.P: What about your mother?
N.A: She didn't work
N.P: What did you study?
N.A: I studied medicine, at first I went to regular Egyptian schools in the countryside, in the
villages we lived in, after that I went to a high school in Cairo and then I went to the faculty of
medicine at Cairo University... after that I got my Master's degree in internal medicine and I was
done.
N.P: When you were in university, did you join any groups?
N.A: I joined the students' movement independently as an individual, they were called the
Nationalist Democrats, they didn't belong to any groups but they were involved in the
movement and they played a positive role in the students' movement during the 1970's.
N.P: What were the goals or the demands of the movement?
N.A: The demands? They had a national democratic agenda as well as an economic agenda,
back then we were steadfast ad the country was in such a state... You know, we've just come
out of the Nasserist period, after the 1967 defeat and it was not possible for the regime to


continue as it was because we felt that this regime was the reason behind the defeat and
people needed some degree of democracy, and of course there was talk about the relations
with Israel and some people were demanding that there should be a solution for the Egyptian-
Israeli war... So, there were the demands, I was sympathetic towards the democratic and
economic agendas, as I told you in the e-mail, I joined the movement for the economic part of it
as I saw the poverty in the Egyptian countryside when I was a child and I was really moved by
the thought that these people were like slaves in this country... the economic situation in the
countryside was very poor although there were decent services in the countryside back then
but there was a big difference between someone like me at school and the other students, the
difference was too big that I couldn't be friends with them because it was as though we
belonged to two different worlds, I came from the city and was the daughter of the police
officer of the village who was an influential figure in the village, while the other kids were the
children of the ordinary townspeople, they came to school wearing nothing but the school
gown with nothing under it, some of them came barefoot, some of them couldn't go to school
because they worked, they helped their fathers in the groves to be able to afford food and
water, so I lived that at a very young age and it stuck with me until I was an adult, I knew that
there was a huge problem and I couldn't live with the idea... even being there made me feel
uncomfortable, that I ate while others were hungry, and I saw that as a child, I would be holding
a sandwich while all the other kids would be looking at it wondering what it was, the idea of a
sandwich was something odd and bizarre back then, with the rustic bread and all, so as a child it
was unbearable to be different from the other kids because I couldn't be their friend although I
tried and they tried but there's always a gap... so that what influenced me since childhood and
it remained with me until now.
N.P: But it was the first time for you to join a movement of any kind when you were in
university
N.A: Yes, yes.
N.P: Can you tell me more about your experience in the movement? Did you have any
activities...
N.A: We had a wall magazine that we posted on the wall and people would come and read and
discuss what was written in there... and of course in 1971 there was the sit-in at the university
which everyone participated in. That was the rift that happened between me and the Islamist
movement, as I was a member in the Islamist group in the faculty. But then the students'
movement came into the scene and I thought that was a very good thing, and the Islamist
groups at the same time were holding a conference called "Islam and the Red crawling",
threatening that the communists wanted to take over the university, and that was when I felt


something was wrong and the beginning of the end of my relation with the political Islamist
movement.
N.P: Was there any problems between you and your father because you participated in...
N.A: Of course, it wasn't common for girls back then to participate in students' movements or
such events, and there were threats of arrest which were realized in 1975 as I was arrested, and
that was unacceptable in a middle-class conservative family... so, that was not acceptable for
them, the idea of a girl going to jail, people hadn't yet gotten used to the idea that girls could be
subjected to that.
N.P: Were there security forces in the university?
N.A: Of course, there were security forces in the sense that there were security men at the gate
to prevent people from going on, but the confrontations between the students and the police
was outside the university as we held protests where we clashed with the police and were
beaten by them, and once a sit-in at campus was raided but I wasn't in that sit-in. I used to go
during the day and go home at night, I didn't stay there overnight. So, the students were
arrested at the sit-in and the next day we went to Tahrir square and we clashed with security
forces but outside campus, in Tahrir square.
N.P: What year did you graduate from university?
N.A: I graduated in 1975, the same year I was arrested... I was arrested in February, I managed
to run away for a while but I was arrested later on, in February 1975, it was the same year I
graduated university and got my Bachelor's degree, I spent around two months or one and a
half month in jail, I'm not sure, and after I was released I resumed my studies and got my
bachelor's degree.
N.P: So, you went to jail because...
N.A: I was arrested as the result of the students' events that year, 1975.
N.P: Were there other people with you?
N.A: Yes, of course, there were other people from other groups and other organizations, I didn't
know them, we met at university and there was a working mother, a journalist and a villager, so
there were both students and other political detainees, they arrested a large number of people
but it didn't last long and that was during the rule of President Sadat.
N.P: Was jail hard for you?


N.A: No, it wasn't hard because when I went to jail I found people some of whom I knew and
others I knew by name not in person, so it was a chance to meet, and I was prepared that this
would happen at any time, between 1971 to 1975 it was possible that I'd be arrested, so I was
prepared but the difficult thing for me was worrying about my family's position in all this, but
that was bound to happen at any moment.
N.P: What did you do after that?
N.A: After that I graduated and worked in the countryside in a village in Al-Gharbiyya, and I
tried to do whatever reforms I could in the area where I was, not to do "private" work but
hoenst and dedicated work, because when doctors go to these villages they turn into con men,
they try to increase their earnings so they take the medicine provided by the unit which should
be given to people for free and when someone came for a paid "private" examination, as the
government started giving permissions for such "private" work, those patients got the medicine
provided by the unit, which is not supposed to be given to private patients... and all the villagers
knew that if they came for a private examination they would get the good medicine or the
expensive medicine or the medicine they thing would work best... So, I tried not to do that and I
did my time in the countryside and then I went back to Cairo... after that in Cairo things had
settled down and the political movement had subsided a little and we were not students
anymore, so it was then that we thought of creating the New Woman studies Centre because
even during or days in the students' movement we noticed that women... or, I had started to
read about other revolutions and whether women's situation improved after the revolution or
not, so that made us feel that something should be done for women in general... I had gotten
married and was about to give birth to my first child so I started to face the reality of women's
life, not the female student who has an easy life, after all you have responsibilities and your
freedom is a little restricted even if your husband is "liberal-minded still" there is a degree of
restriction on your freedom, and women's burdens are doubled, the burden of work and home
while the husband is occupied with his work but detached from the house, no matter how
much you try to divide the work between you two and no matter how much understanding
there is between you, but this is not achieved in practice. I also felt that we should continue
somehow until the movements rose again. That was the field I felt I can contribute to, which is
working with women in order to change the situation of women. So, we created the New
Woman Foundation and I was among the founding group.
N.P: Can you tell me more about the activities of the New Woman Foundation?
N.A: It started as a cultural group which reads into the history of women's movement in the
world and in Egypt, and of course it was "eye opening" for us to discover that there has been a
women's movement in Egypt since the previous century and that there were female writers and
there were women who fought for their causes and there were the women of Al-Wafd and


fighters who did things that were considered extraordinary during their time... there were
women who achieved things and failed at other things, they couldn't find the harmony between
their lives and what they were doing, so that was an important thing, that was the first period,
after that we tried to do something different by starting to write our opinions and spread them
among people and have them read in women groups... we became interested in the problems
of certain women groups like nurses for example, and since I am a doctor that was my main
field of interest in the beginning, the problems of women who worked as nurses because they
had poor living situations and they had problems because they were women. Problems of
harassment and the doctors who treated nurses as if they were their own servants or harem...
also the problems of wages, work shifts, evening shifts and the society's view of them as
women nurses, that was one of the things. I also became interested in the issue of the
reproductive health of women and violence, we did several researches on this, some of them
were important and everything we did was followed by meeting whether with the groups
relevant to the issue or public meetings to spread awareness about the issues we were talking
about. So, that was the first period and of course there were other things the foundation
worked on other than women's health, there was the issue of adult education and the things
people were interested in during the time the New Woman Foundation was created. There was
something about the laws that restrict women's freedoms, we worked on that too. There was a
leap that happened with Mexico Conventions and what came after that and then CEDAW, we
took a part in all these leaps, and one of the most important leaps was the Population
Conventions which was before Geneva conventions and which took place here in Egypt, and
our foundation participated in it through a number of researches, that was an important thing,
and another important thing was that we started to build networks with other organizations,
we didn't conduct these researches on our own, but rather with other organizations or
individuals concerned with women's issues, we started to divide the work among each other
and the networks started to be formed. These networks have already started with the
amendment of the civil status law on the days of Jihan Al-Sadat and we objected to the
amendment they wanted to make and we thought it wasn't enough, at the same time it was
rejected by the parliament because they thought it was heresy, and it was the first time for us
to go through that struggle through women issues.
N.P: What was the reaction of the people around you and the civil society to the fact that you
created a foundation for women?
N.A: It was weird at first, naturally, but they also bewildered at the issues we addressed as they
were unfamiliar issues or considered as taboos. Like the issue of violence against women, it was
considered a taboo back then and it wasn't supposed to be talked about... some people even
intellectuals thought that if we tackled issues like female circumcision and women health that
these were not vital issues, and that was understandable even though those were intellectual


men and women but that was their opinion, that these were not the issues we were supposed
to deal with and that we were creating a fuss and clashing with the society, and that stems
from the same political reasoning that when the issues of the society are solved, women's
issues will be solved consequently, so we faced that all the time. But with time we felt that
people started to respond, in our immediate circles and even in the larges circles and they
started to take interest in the things we used to talk about as things that should be addressed
without any shame, they were tackled at the highest levels in the government, they started to
make their way into newspapers and became news worthy... I remember that in the Population
Convention one of the issues of the New Woman magazine was issued on the occasion of the
Population Convention and I had written an article in it about the idea that was circulated back
then that abortion is haram (prohibited by religion) even if the woman became pregnant as a
result of rape, so I wrote a letter to the Sheik (scholar) of Al-Azhar in the voice of the bastard
child that is born from this rape, and I said: "What are you giving us? You think abortion is
haram but when I come to this world you don't provide me with any opportunities, there's no
adoption, no institutions to take care of me, I'm considered an illegal child, I'm pelted with
bricks, you don't open your mosque to me and you don't protect me, so what do you reckon?"
If I saw that there's a solution to take care of this rape child... not to mention that the mother
has to live with the stigma... Of course, that was a simple letter that we put together while we
were at a workshop and I decided to write it and I wrote it in 10 minutes. Then when my
colleagues read it they liked it and we decided to publish it. Of course it created a huge buzz
because they considered that a woman has defied the Sheikh of Azhar and addressed him
mockingly, telling him: what did you do to me? And I hope that God won't forgive you for this,
and things like that. So, that was a confrontation but after that, I don't know if it was the Mufti
of the Egyptian Republic or the Sheikh of Azhar, they approved that a raped woman has the
right to get an abortion in the event of pregnancy, although the law doesn't approve it but he
thought that according to religion... he didn't admit if it was because of this letter or because
the issue was addressed publicly, the issue was opened in a very simple and sudden way,
people didn't see the content of the issue but they were shocked as to how a woman could
address the Sheikh of Azhar in that way. The title of the letter was: a letter to the Sheikh of
Azhar. So that goes to show how when you first say something it shocks people and the first
reaction seems to be against it, but after a while since it's logical and real, tendencies could
change. Tendencies did change in many things that were realized later on, it was said that some
things that were realized were because of Jihan Al-Sadat or Suzan Mubarak, because we also
resorted to internal pressure as well as external pressure, we had to, because there weren't
parties in Egypt, no civil society organizations, not back then and not even now they are not
free and they don't have a space to speak up... So, we took advantage of the external pressure
related to the idea of the convention and the article that were agreed on in the population
convention, we took advantage of that. So, that pressure was practiced on the government and


the government would relent and achieve some things, and then it would be said that the
reason was the pressure made by the First Lady, not because... of course, the First Lady too was
subjected to external pressures through the National Women's Council which could be
admitted into the committee of CIDAW and file a report and then we would file a counter-
report so they would be asked about a lot of things so they had to say that they were working
on some things in order to look good in front of CIDAW committee... Of course, after that when
something comes out like the stipulated marriage certificate or a law saying that a woman
doesn't need her husband's approval to travel or legal changes like the nationality law, many
things happened during that period and they were said to be Suzan Mubarak's law, of course
that negated what was said about Jihan, that it was Suzan Mubarak, while that was indeed the
result of the work done by the civil society basically and their attempts to use the external
pressure since the internal pressure wasn't very strong, in order to influence change... And of
course we thought that the change on the legal level wasn't enough, but in fact it was the
beginning, when you start changing on the legal level you have the chance to achieve
something... That happens all the time, even throughout history, things like setting a minimum
age for marriage... and this year 2013 or the previous year 2012 the battle was about that,
some people believe that in Islamic law there is no minimum age for marriage and that the
Prophet married a very young girl and that if we are to follow His example there should not be
a minimum age for marriage, and there were women in the previous century, in 1914 and 1920
who talked about early marriage as a disaster for women and that there should be a minimum
age for marriage, and we kept raising the minimum age for marriage until it reached 18 years,
and in 2012 there was talk about going back to that... but the legal change, when there were
laws setting the minimum age for marriage at 16 and then 18, the parents at first object to that
and sometimes they do things like in the countryside where they do something called
"Tasneen" where they take a 13 year-old girl to the doctors and bribe him so that he writes that
she's 18 years old, and then her father can marry her off based on that forged certificate... the
parents try to work around the laws at first but later on the laws acquire a weight in the minds
of people that if you ask someone if they'd marry his daughter off at 14 he would find it very
weird, how could he let his daughter marry at 14? Because now there's talk about the minimum
age for marriage being 18. So, the legal changes even if they don't have a strong impact in the
short run but they had an impact in the long run. So, that's an effort that was made by the New
Woman Foundation, along with others, it wasn't us alone, there were other organizations too
and it took a long time, a decade.
N.P: During that period or before the revolution, did you join any other groups?
N.A: Before which revolution? January 25th?
N.P: Yes, January 25th.


N.A: Jnauary 25th... No, I was only part of the New Woman Foundation, but I also was part of
other things like the Health and Environmental Development Association, and since I'm a
doctor for elderly people so I'm part of organizations like Egypt Alzheimer's, all these are things
trying to raise awareness in different aspects, they seem irrelevant to each other but
sometimes there are links between them... in the Health and Environmental Development
Association too women issues were present on their agenda, the idea of New Women was that
we are an organization that seeks to put the awareness in gender roles on the society's agenda,
be it the civil society or the government, and we managed to achieve that to a reasonable
degree in my opinion. So, even in an organization like Alzheimer's or my work with the elderly,
I'm involved in women issues among the elderly and I have a book about women's role in
providing care for the elderly, it's a book for women, like a guide for women on how to take
care of the elderly.
N.P: Were you surprised by the revolution?
N.A: Yes, I was a little surprised. I had been involved in the events that preceded it in general,
for example when there were protests I would take part in them without being a part of any
group or movement, sometimes I participate on behalf of New Woman, we go out as the
women from New Woman and we have an opinion on a certain issue, especially the issues of
democracy, we all felt that we must help build democracy in Egypt, to have freedom of speech
and expression for the people and for the civil society to have the right to grow and not to be
secretive or do "tricky" things in order to keep going, so we took part in all that without being a
part of any organization or party or anything, either through New Woman or personally... I
remember once I participated in a protest because my son was in it, my son was a young
university student and he participated in the protest and by then the government had started
using a very bad methods since 2005, in the first students' movement the government use dto
face us either with the secret intelligent agents who work in the security apparatus but dress as
civilians, but we were able to recognize them, or regular security men who wore security
uniforms and we could tell they were security men... since 2005 they started to use a very asty
method which is using thugs to face the political movement, and that happened for the first
time or at least it was exposed for the first time when a female journalist, or lawyer I think, may
she rest in peace, I think her name was Nawal, they were standing on the steps of the
Journalists' union and the government sent female thugs from the prisoners who were basically
pimps and hockers, they stripped the woman of her clothes at the gate of the union, it's the
idea of using a method nobody can respect, any woman who's stripped of her clothes,
especially an Egyptian woman, since we're generally conservative people and even those who
are very liberal are conservative about exposing their bodies, they don't accept it to be exposed
on the street against their will. So, they used that method and after that they started to use it
at protests by getting thugs out of jails or through special relations with the police and using


them to confront the people... so, that was a cause for much worry and I remember that I
participated in that protest with my son because I was worried about him from the thugs, so I
was there to protect him, of course we both got beaten but... and we were cussed out by thugs
too, so... but I couldn't imagine having my 16 year-old son out there in these protests alone, I
felt that I had to be there with him... So, after than in the 2000's as I had grown old and I
couldn't go on protests and such things like before, but since my son was at the age where he
started to participate in protests I was aware of the things young people do and the things that
were happening and the protests. Of course he tried to hid things from us like we used to hide
things from our parents too, so we would see him on TV unexpectedly, clashing with security
forces or being beaten, and people protecting him, so... I knew about January 25th from my son
and he had great expectations of it and his father and I would say that he must be kidding... of
course, two days later... I didn't go out on January 25th, I think I went out on the 27th, it was
perhaps the second or the third day actually that I went out... So, we were there, I bought a
wide boot and I started living on the streets after that but of course I didn't sleep there... it also
started with the idea that my son was there so I wanted to be there to watch him because the
central security started beating the protesters and things like that, but that I couldn't keep an
eye on him all the time because we were running back and forth... So, my participation on
January 25th started with the idea that my son and his friends were on the street.
N.P: When you went out on the 28th of January, what hopes did you have for the future?
N.A: It was a shock, the idea that people changed all of a sudden, people who have been buried
under the rubble for so long and said that nothing would change, the idea of these huge
numbers of people taking the streets despite the police violence and the bombs
TAPE 2
Nadia Abdel Wahhab: despite the fact that people were being killed, few days after the
revolution broke out we started counting deaths among protestors, and there were tanks
running people over and things like that, so people were increasing in numbers, and that was
surprising because before when there was violence things would subside. What happened in
January was that the more violence there was, the more people took to the streets, there
numbers increased. A post on facebook or some other social network says that people are
being beaten up and urges people to take the streets -1 didn't believe that people would take
the streets - and the place would be thronging with people in an hour... Of course I was very
surprised with the idea that people were not afraid. The other surprise was that people
regained the ability to speak, before when we saw a TV interview with people talking on the


street, people couldn't talk, they uttered meaningless expressions just to fill up spaces, they
didn't say "consistent" things... suddenly it was as though Egyptians regained their ability to
speak and to be able to make meaningful speeches, delivering a "message" keenly and strongly.
That wasn't a familiar thing, and there were people from all social classes. Another thing that
shocked me was that for the first time Egyptians weren't divided, in Tahrir square people were
coexisting and living together, homeless kids were living among the tents with young people
who were graduates of fancy private schools like the Freres college, the German school or the
American University, and everyone was happy, there was joy over this human case. There's
something I'll never forget, when a child came up to me, he's one of the homeless kids who
hang around in the garden, usually I would feel that he's coming to beg for money or something
but I discovered that he was coming to deliver a message for me, he came to me saying: See?
Everyone is homeless now. So... it's a very powerful message and he spoke it with joy and
confidence, in each other's arms, those kids were sleeping in the arms of younger people like
university students and whatnot, without fear, for the first time there was no fear of simple
people. And for the first time simple people were treated as human beings, equal to those who
belong to higher social classes, it's something I've dreamed of since I was a child at school, for
people to be able to communicate with others and not to be secluded, so that was something
"striking" and very joyful for me about the revolution.
N.P: Did you expect Mubarak to step down?
N.A: After his second speech I thought he would step down, at first I didn't expect him to step
down at all, I thought that the protests would be suppressed and people would go home like
every time, but we will still have the memory of something great that took place. But after I saw
how people persisted and stood their ground and how he gave a speech every couple of days
saying meaningless things, it was obvious for me that he would step down, he was done, but
who would come after him, that wasn't clear... we didn't even know what's the right thing to
do, was the right thing that the old regime had been shaken and scared and should be given a
chance to reform itself and we could even have a president from that same regime but one that
had experienced that blow in order to keep it in mind to know how to deal with the people, or
could we do more than that, some real deep change, changing the whole regime? Obviously
there was a problem here because... the way we were divided and the movement and power of
the civil society didn't allow a big change. There were no parties, no real powers on the ground
"to take the lead", and that's what happened indeed, the only organized power was the Muslim
Brotherhood so the revolution ended up being taken over by the MB. And we still have this
problem three years after the revolution, the old regime and the MB are the only two organized
forces until now. Of course, there's a new power rising which is the parties and whatnot, but
since it's still a newly born power and because it faces clashes and attempts to weaken it by the
two streams... it can't play a significant role, it can't be an influential factor in the equation.


N.P: After June 25th revolution...
N.A: It's January not June, January 25th
N.P: You joined the party immediately?
N.A: The Egyptian Democratic Party? Yes, since it was founded.
N.P: Why did you choose it?
N.A: Look, given my personal tendencies I was supposed to join a leftist party, like the Popular
Coalition, I was more inclined to the left stream, my personal tendencies. But the truth is that I
felt that I wanted to be somewhere where my influence may go beyond the leftist groups, I
don't want to sit with the same leftist group saying the same things, having the same fights
about old political stands. I felt that the left must be among the people, and that we could
influence change on people if we believed in it, so what was special about the Egyptian
Democratic Party was the idea that it consisted of two groups in the beginning, one group was
leftist and the other was liberal. So, that was a chance to talk to new and different people, to be
able to improve your awareness and reach a common understanding and whatnot, so that's
what I liked about the party and I think I made the right choice... I don't regret it.
N.P: Can you talk more about the activities you participated in through the party?
N.A: I'll tell you, it spells the same idea about where I am, of course in the party we discuss
political events, I'm a member in the High Committee, the political office and the executive
office and the Women's Secretariat. So, since I'm the elected head of the women's secretariat; I
am in the political office, the executive office and the High Committee as a result of that... Of
course there are political discussions about important topics, but I don't really feel that they are
relevant to me, what I'm more interested in and what made me land the position at the
women's secretariat is the idea of developing the female labor force in the governorates and in
the countryside, the women... because the momentum that was created in the governorates
during the revolution was very "inspired" and uplifting, that women would go out and be in the
square side by side with men, those women could talk very well, so I felt this was a loose end
that needed to be tied, so in the party I'm interested in this issue, the idea of developing
women's abilities so that women are capable of political participation, that they can run for the
elections, that women not only run for the elections to win but also adopt a women agenda, an
agenda that serves women, we have messages which say that any candidate male or female
that we're willing to support must adopt a certain agenda or certain messages. So, that's what
I'm more interested in within the party... but the issues over to vote yes or no for the
constitution... I don't care very much about that, I'm not a very political person but I'm
interested in administrative issues, or not administrative... personal development of people, I


don't know what to call it. It's politics but a different kind of politics, politics isn't only about
Israel and whatnot, politics is that people can eat and live well with dignity. I'd stand against
Israel and fight this war if that would give me dignity, dignity and rights as a human being in this
country... so, I'm interested in this aspect more than the theoretical political aspects or
discussions.
N.P: Did you participate in the June 30th protests?
N.A: Yes, but only one time, because I was against the unconditional authorization of Sisi and
the armed forces, I thought it was completely meaningless. I joined the protests because I was
against the MB regime and their failed ruling system which insulted women and insulted the
whole society and made us look bad even in our own eyes. But the idea that people would
authorize the Armed Forces to topple that regime, I didn't approve of that. You can't authorize
anyone forever like this because this way you'll be making new idols (dictators) of a nother kind
or dressed up differently but still the same idols.
N.P: May I ask what was the hardest thing you faced at your work during all that time? Starting
from the students' movement until now
N.A: The hardest thing, you mean the hardest situation or what? I can't recall one hardship in
particular
N.P: like challenges
N.A: Challenges? The challenge is in the idea that you can say what you have to say without
changing it on different occasions. For example, if you say that you are against female
circumcision, I'm talking about that from a medical perspective, but when you go to the
countryside they want you to talk about female circumcision from a religious perspective,
whether it's allowed or prohibited. Many people say that in order to convince country people
you need to use religious slogans, of course I was against that and that was the hardest
situation, the religious discourse is important for people and our discourse is not a religious one
so there has always been a difficulty in this regard. So, I always resorted to the fact that I was
talking from a medical perspective and I told people that I was a doctor so I talked from a
medical perspective, if you want to listen to my medical opinion you're free to do that, if you
want to listen to the religious cleric and do what he says even if it would affect your health then
you're free, what could I do? So that was the problem... sometimes I felt that I could explore
religion and find progressive ideas to talk about but... if I used religion someone else might
come and give another religious opinion and in the end I'm not a religious scholar and I'm not
wearing a turban so, they would believe him not me. So, the right thing to do is to stand by your
free opinion even if not all the people believe in it right away... another hard thing to feel was
the idea... but this is not exclusive to my struggle, it had to do with my feelings because the


penetration of the religious movement in the infrastructure of this country was a big
challenge... starting with their interference in the way women looked and dressed and then
interfering with men, that a man should shave his moustache and grow a beard and have a
mark on his forehead and things like that, until interfering with people's life in things like
celebrations, first we had to hold a celebration called "soboo3" then it was turned into
"Aqeeqa", so we started to import a different dress code and different ideas, and that was
spreading like wildfire among families and I saw it in the people around me, my doctor
colleagues, I've been around these people since 1975 when we used to wear skimpy clothes
until all of them started wearing hijab and niqab and doing Aqeeqa and following these
traditions, of course that felt like a challenges I couldn't face because it happened on the larger
scale of the society and there was no way to stop it, like fire under ashes. The strange thing is
that despite that, all these women or the people I saw going through that religious
transformation, these are the same people who supported Sisi against the Muslim
Brotherhood. They are the same people who elected Mursi and the same people who decided
to give an unconditional authorization to the Armed Forces led by Sisi to end the rule of the
MB. So, I'm not rational about this... I don't know what whill happen or what will people do,
sometimes I feel that there will come a day... at the beginning of Mursi's rule when it started to
be clear that there was a tendency against women and whatnot, I felt that if this rule lasted for
four years there will be a day when women will go up to the Nile, take off their hijabs and
throw them in the Nile and then they'll walk around with their hair let down... that happened
but in a different way, they kept the hijab but they renounced political Islamism and that
stream, to what extent that is "genuine" and sure I cannot tell, but I can see it. Is it because
they are always looking for a patriarchal society and the previous one which was a religious one
didn't work for them so they wanted a military substitute which is also patriarchal? That is
possible and it's a challenge, that people are still not used to taking the lead by themselves,
they imagine that there must be one fair leader who would do everything for them, and they
only have to be his loyal subjects. My hope is that the youth are different, our generation was
like that but I feel that they youth are not like this, the youth are completely different, they
might be chaotic and anarchists as they say but they don't want a patriarchal society, they want
to break that mold because they suffered from it a lot.
N.P: Can we say that the revolution brought about more social changes than political ones?
What do you think?
N.A: I don't know if that's true or not, it might be but I can't judge, there are things that are still
hard to tell, but of course there aren't political changes as I said, the deep state is still there and
the Islamist movement is there, these two major movements are there, but there's something
that changes inside the people, shall we call it social change? There's something inside the
mothers of martyrs that changed. There's something that changed inside the youth, there's


something that changed in the city, there's something that changed in the poor... there is
change of some sort, shall we call it social change? to what extent? Of course, it's obvious that
there is change but how durable is it and can it stand in the face of what's coming? I can't say. If
another state came, be it the deep state with police force, will it be able to muffle that voice or
not? I can't say, I can't make a judgment here.
N.P: I forgot to ask you about the Egyptian Democratic Party
N.A: The Egyptian Social Democratic Party
N.P: The first time you joined...
N.A: A party? Yes that was it. It was the first time I joined a party.
N.P: You weren't in the Unionist party?
N.A: No, I wasn't.
N.P: I also want to ask whether you joined the union?
N.A: Yes, the doctors' union, I was in it and I ran in the union election once, I can't remember
which year was that but I did because we were running for a list called the Young Doctors List,
and that was the beginning of the Islamists who defeated us and took over power, they took
over the union and stayed there ever since and the elections stopped after those elections...
and they've been in power ever since, I mean in the union. They took over the doctors' union
since the elections which was won by the Independence List.
N.P: May I ask you about your best memory from your work?
N.A: The best memories from my political work or for women? There's a lot, I can't say...
N.P: That's good
N.A: I'm happy with my choices in general, but I can't recall one thing in particular to say that
it's a memory which stuck in my mind, but it could be the January 25th revolution, it's the
liveliest experience of victory for the people.
N.P: What about your worst memories?
N.A: Worst memories... that's also associated with the revolution, when I imagine all the young
people who were killed I feel appalled and all the women who lost their sons I feel appalled, we
paid a steep price for the revolution, it's too high a price... So, that scares me and gives me pain
to think of these young men, their faces are still in my mind and their names too, I have a flag I
used to take with me to the protests on which I wrote the names of the martyrs. It was full of


names and there are still names being written on it... but it seems to me that I took it painfully
perhaps because I'm a mother and I imagine that my only son could've been in the place of any
of those young men who were killed... but obviously those who were killed, to their friends,
they were an "inspiration" for the whole generation. I remember a guy who used to carry a flag
in all the protests called "Mena Daniel's flag", that was the flag carried by Mena Daniel during
the protests, so after he died his friends decided to keep that flag held up, and at any protest
you would see that torn flag of Mena Daniel with the cross and the crescent on it... and they
would not let the flag down no matter what, even if they had to fall and die, when one of them
was injured the other would take the flag, so that was something very "inspiring" for the youth,
and whenever I remember how much blood was shed I can't stand the idea, it was a very steep
price for the revolution, especially because they were all young people.
N.P: I forgot to ask, did you work at the hospital...
N.A: Palestine's hospital?
N.P: No, the field hospital
N.A: No, I didn't work in the field hospital, I didn't work as a doctor in the revolution, I was a
protestor, I didn't work at field hospitals... because of the nature of my work too since I've been
working with the elderly for a long time now so the elderly are very far from "casualties", it's a
whole different "branch" of medicine, it has little to do with stitching and whatnot, so I was
worried that if I was there I would be a burden rather than a helping hand.
N.P: Is there anything I didn't ask about?
N.A: Something you didn't ask about? I didn't have anything in mind I wanted to be asked about
but I hope that the things I said were useful to you and not just a waste of time.
N.A: No, it was very useful
N.A: I think that... I can tell you more about an experience related to the Egyptian Democratic
Party, which is the idea that... the first meeting for the women's Secretariat, when I joined the
Egyptian Democratic Party I didn't joint any secretariat, so one of my relatives, the young
women in the party who knew I was an activist in the field of women issues put my name in the
Women's Secretariat, although my intentions behind joining the party was supporting my
name, I hadn't decided yet to be very active inside the party, so in the first meeting for the
Women's secretariat they sent for me and I attended it, and it was a meeting for a large
number of elegant ladies who all talks in English, or most of the talking was done in English, and
they talked about what the Women's Secretariat role could be inside the party and the general
tendency was that the women's secretariat would do something for charity in order to let


women vote for the party later on... I remember that when I spoke I said that we are the
Egyptian Democratic Party and that I felt it was nice if we all talked in Arabic so that we could
understand each other and to be able to talk to the people who we were willing to work with
anywhere, so we had to get used to talking in Arabic amongst each other, ad since I don't speak
English as well as you do and I'd like to follow what you're all are saying, and then I started to
talk about the idea of charity and that the MB were doing that, the MB do charity to win votes,
and that our approach as the Egyptian Democratic Party must be something completely
different, we're supposed to be seeking to change women and make them a part of a
democratic movement or a movement for the future, and... I remember that afterwards and I
spoke in a very plain and simple language, I didn't imagine that my words would resonate with
anyone, so afterwards I found out that everyone wanted to hear that and that assured me that
I made the right choice. So that was the beginning of the change that happened in our
approach in the women's committee as it was called back then. After that they were wondering
how we could do that so we decided to hold a workshop about... to make a program for the
Women's Secretariat and to do that through a workshop all the time, and we started by
summoning different people who worked on different things, some of them had worked on
CEDAW and other things, each one did a presentation on something and I remember that I did
a presentation on the women's movement prior to 1952, so that people would understand that
we are a continuation for something that had started before, not a new thing... after that
workshop which took place over 1 and half day by giving some presentations and then we were
divided into groups and each of us wrote their own envisioned version of the women's
program, and we put together a great program, without any interference or anyone imposing
anything, people themselves suggested different things, and we started to have a secretariat
standing on real ground back then, the women's secretariat became something that sought...
we now do basic work in the governorates and the idea of having election messages, that the
female candidate who wants women to support her gives them reasons for that, for example:
because in my election agenda I seek to secure women's movement on the streets, to have
laws that allow women to move around safely... down to having street lighting and paved roads
and addressing sexual harassment, all these things would be talked about by the candidate
who's running for elections and wants women's votes, because women care about this, the
freedom of movement is very important for most Egyptian women, maybe even more
important than food and drink and everything else, to be able to move. So the idea of these
election messages is that the female candidate cares about women's role and wants to do
something for women, we don't only choose her because she's a woman in the sexual sense,
just because she's a woman and we want women to be 50%, that doesn't mean anything. We
want a woman who advocates women's rights.
N.P: Sorry?


N.A: We want a woman who advocates women's rights, who gets the votes of women because
she has an agenda that's concerned with women, so... in my opinion this is something
important and new because all parties view these women's secretariats as a method to attract
women to the party. That our only job is to get votes for the party in any way possible, so we
try to fix that, to prove that there is more to the women's secretariat and it's one of the most
active bodies in the party and this is understood, it's not only me, there are those who are more
radical than me who managed to impose themselves on the High Committee and the political
office, they went through a fierce war, these ordinary women who were speaking in English,
they became so determined that they decided to wage a war for the issue of the women's
quota and our representation, that we must not be only present in numbers but in all the
secretariats, that women should not be only present in the women's secretariat, the youth
secretariat must have women, and so does the Professional's Secretariat, and the Vice
President or General secretary must be a woman... so, they understood that idea and made big
leaps that I can't even measure up to... that's is a happy thing, it was one of the happy things in
my life.
N.P: Would you like to say anything else?
N.A: I don't really have anything to say other than I'm thinking of having a good retirement. I
was just telling them in the Women's Secretariat that I wanted to have changes and I hoped
that we could have a young woman as a secretary, that the women's secretary would be a
young woman, we're supposed to have a meeting today to discuss that issue, and I'm very
interested in this issue that we should have a young and "presentable" secretary, because I
have a problem which is that I don't like appearing in the media, and this is a big flaw because
part of how the secretariat can acquire a "status" is that its leader or the person in charge of it
must be present, especially in the media, and I have a personal problem with that which I'm not
able to solve, I can't appear on TV, I don't like it, shooting and such things make me nervous. So,
we have hope that today we can convince the young women that one of them should take the
lead, we have great girls, while the other older members and I could do other things like
communicating with the other governorates and whatnot, so we would be playing other roles
which will help and support them. So, I hope we will succeed in that.
N.P: I hope you will
N.A: is there anything else you'd like to ask
N.P: No, that's it
N.A: I hope that your project succeeds and that you will have...


Full Text
Interview with Nadia Abdel Wahab
2014

TAPE 1

Nicola Pratt: May I first ask, where and when were you born?
Nadia Abdel Wahhab: On January 14th, officially it is January 25th 1951… In Cairo.
N.P: Did you grow up in Cairo?
N.A: No, the first part of my life I grew up in the countryside, my father was a police officer and he moved between town or villages, I didn't settle in Cairo until I was 16, before that I lived in different villages across Egypt… in the "countryside".
N.P: And your father was…
N.A: A police officer
N.P: What about your mother?
N.A: She didn't work
N.P: What did you study?
N.A: I studied medicine, at first I went to regular Egyptian schools in the countryside, in the villages we lived in, after that I went to a high school in Cairo and then I went to the faculty of medicine at Cairo University… after that I got my Master's degree in internal medicine and I was done.
N.P: When you were in university, did you join any groups?
N.A: I joined the students' movement independently as an individual, they were called the Nationalist Democrats, they didn't belong to any groups but they were involved in the movement and they played a positive role in the students' movement during the 1970's.
N.P: What were the goals or the demands of the movement?
N.A: The demands? They had a national democratic agenda as well as an economic agenda, back then we were steadfast ad the country was in such a state… You know, we've just come out of the Nasserist period, after the 1967 defeat and it was not possible for the regime to continue as it was because we felt that this regime was the reason behind the defeat and people needed some degree of democracy, and of course there was talk about the relations with Israel and some people were demanding that there should be a solution for the Egyptian-Israeli war… So, there were the demands, I was sympathetic towards the democratic and economic agendas, as I told you in the e-mail, I joined the movement for the economic part of it as I saw the poverty in the Egyptian countryside when I was a child and I was really moved by the thought that these people were like slaves in this country… the economic situation in the countryside was very poor although there were decent services in the countryside back then but there was a big difference between someone like me at school and the other students, the difference was too big that I couldn't be friends with them because it was as though we belonged to two different worlds, I came from the city and was the daughter of the police officer of the village who was an influential figure in the village, while the other kids were the children of the ordinary townspeople, they came to school wearing nothing but the school gown with nothing under it, some of them came barefoot, some of them couldn't go to school because they worked, they helped their fathers in the groves to be able to afford food and water, so I lived that at a very young age and it stuck with me until I was an adult, I knew that there was a huge problem and I couldn't live with the idea… even being there made me feel uncomfortable, that I ate while others were hungry, and I saw that as a child, I would be holding a sandwich while all the other kids would be looking at it wondering what it was, the idea of a sandwich was something odd and bizarre back then, with the rustic bread and all, so as a child it was unbearable to be different from the other kids because I couldn't be their friend although I tried and they tried but there's always a gap… so that what influenced me since childhood and it remained with me until now.
N.P: But it was the first time for you to join a movement of any kind when you were in university
N.A: Yes, yes.
N.P: Can you tell me more about your experience in the movement? Did you have any activities…
N.A: We had a wall magazine that we posted on the wall and people would come and read and discuss what was written in there… and of course in 1971 there was the sit-in at the university which everyone participated in. That was the rift that happened between me and the Islamist movement, as I was a member in the Islamist group in the faculty. But then the students' movement came into the scene and I thought that was a very good thing, and the Islamist groups at the same time were holding a conference called "Islam and the Red crawling", threatening that the communists wanted to take over the university, and that was when I felt something was wrong and the beginning of the end of my relation with the political Islamist movement.
N.P: Was there any problems between you and your father because you participated in…
N.A: Of course, it wasn't common for girls back then to participate in students' movements or such events, and there were threats of arrest which were realized in 1975 as I was arrested, and that was unacceptable in a middle-class conservative family… so, that was not acceptable for them, the idea of a girl going to jail, people hadn't yet gotten used to the idea that girls could be subjected to that.
N.P: Were there security forces in the university?
N.A: Of course, there were security forces in the sense that there were security men at the gate to prevent people from going on, but the confrontations between the students and the police was outside the university as we held protests where we clashed with the police and were beaten by them, and once a sit-in at campus was raided but I wasn't in that sit-in. I used to go during the day and go home at night, I didn't stay there overnight. So, the students were arrested at the sit-in and the next day we went to Tahrir square and we clashed with security forces but outside campus, in Tahrir square.
N.P: What year did you graduate from university?
N.A: I graduated in 1975, the same year I was arrested… I was arrested in February, I managed to run away for a while but I was arrested later on, in February 1975, it was the same year I graduated university and got my Bachelor's degree, I spent around two months or one and a half month in jail, I'm not sure, and after I was released I resumed my studies and got my bachelor's degree.
N.P: So, you went to jail because…
N.A: I was arrested as the result of the students' events that year, 1975.
N.P: Were there other people with you?
N.A: Yes, of course, there were other people from other groups and other organizations, I didn't know them, we met at university and there was a working mother, a journalist and a villager, so there were both students and other political detainees, they arrested a large number of people but it didn't last long and that was during the rule of President Sadat.
N.P: Was jail hard for you?
N.A: No, it wasn't hard because when I went to jail I found people some of whom I knew and others I knew by name not in person, so it was a chance to meet, and I was prepared that this would happen at any time, between 1971 to 1975 it was possible that I'd be arrested, so I was prepared but the difficult thing for me was worrying about my family's position in all this, but that was bound to happen at any moment.
N.P: What did you do after that?
N.A: After that I graduated and worked in the countryside in a village in Al-Gharbiyya, and I tried to do whatever reforms I could in the area where I was, not to do "private" work but hoenst and dedicated work, because when doctors go to these villages they turn into con men, they try to increase their earnings so they take the medicine provided by the unit which should be given to people for free and when someone came for a paid "private" examination, as the government started giving permissions for such "private" work, those patients got the medicine provided by the unit, which is not supposed to be given to private patients… and all the villagers knew that if they came for a private examination they would get the good medicine or the expensive medicine or the medicine they thing would work best… So, I tried not to do that and I did my time in the countryside and then I went back to Cairo… after that in Cairo things had settled down and the political movement had subsided a little and we were not students anymore, so it was then that we thought of creating the New Woman studies Centre because even during or days in the students' movement we noticed that women… or, I had started to read about other revolutions and whether women's situation improved after the revolution or not, so that made us feel that something should be done for women in general… I had gotten married and was about to give birth to my first child so I started to face the reality of women's life, not the female student who has an easy life, after all you have responsibilities and your freedom is a little restricted even if your husband is "liberal-minded still" there is a degree of restriction on your freedom, and women's burdens are doubled, the burden of work and home while the husband is occupied with his work but detached from the house, no matter how much you try to divide the work between you two and no matter how much understanding there is between you, but this is not achieved in practice. I also felt that we should continue somehow until the movements rose again. That was the field I felt I can contribute to, which is working with women in order to change the situation of women. So, we created the New Woman Foundation and I was among the founding group.
N.P: Can you tell me more about the activities of the New Woman Foundation?
N.A: It started as a cultural group which reads into the history of women's movement in the world and in Egypt, and of course it was "eye opening" for us to discover that there has been a women's movement in Egypt since the previous century and that there were female writers and there were women who fought for their causes and there were the women of Al-Wafd and fighters who did things that were considered extraordinary during their time… there were women who achieved things and failed at other things, they couldn't find the harmony between their lives and what they were doing, so that was an important thing, that was the first period, after that we tried to do something different by starting to write our opinions and spread them among people and have them read in women groups… we became interested in the problems of certain women groups like nurses for example, and since I am a doctor that was my main field of interest in the beginning, the problems of women who worked as nurses because they had poor living situations and they had problems because they were women. Problems of harassment and the doctors who treated nurses as if they were their own servants or harem… also the problems of wages, work shifts, evening shifts and the society's view of them as women nurses, that was one of the things. I also became interested in the issue of the reproductive health of women and violence, we did several researches on this, some of them were important and everything we did was followed by meeting whether with the groups relevant to the issue or public meetings to spread awareness about the issues we were talking about. So, that was the first period and of course there were other things the foundation worked on other than women's health, there was the issue of adult education and the things people were interested in during the time the New Woman Foundation was created. There was something about the laws that restrict women's freedoms, we worked on that too. There was a leap that happened with Mexico Conventions and what came after that and then CEDAW, we took a part in all these leaps, and one of the most important leaps was the Population Conventions which was before Geneva conventions and which took place here in Egypt, and our foundation participated in it through a number of researches, that was an important thing, and another important thing was that we started to build networks with other organizations, we didn't conduct these researches on our own, but rather with other organizations or individuals concerned with women's issues, we started to divide the work among each other and the networks started to be formed. These networks have already started with the amendment of the civil status law on the days of Jihan Al-Sadat and we objected to the amendment they wanted to make and we thought it wasn't enough, at the same time it was rejected by the parliament because they thought it was heresy, and it was the first time for us to go through that struggle through women issues.
N.P: What was the reaction of the people around you and the civil society to the fact that you created a foundation for women?
N.A: It was weird at first, naturally, but they also bewildered at the issues we addressed as they were unfamiliar issues or considered as taboos. Like the issue of violence against women, it was considered a taboo back then and it wasn't supposed to be talked about… some people even intellectuals thought that if we tackled issues like female circumcision and women health that these were not vital issues, and that was understandable even though those were intellectual men and women but that was their opinion, that these were not the issues we were supposed to deal with and that we were creating a fuss and clashing with the society, and that stems from the same political reasoning that when the issues of the society are solved, women's issues will be solved consequently, so we faced that all the time. But with time we felt that people started to respond, in our immediate circles and even in the larges circles and they started to take interest in the things we used to talk about as things that should be addressed without any shame, they were tackled at the highest levels in the government, they started to make their way into newspapers and became news worthy… I remember that in the Population Convention one of the issues of the New Woman magazine was issued on the occasion of the Population Convention and I had written an article in it about the idea that was circulated back then that abortion is haram (prohibited by religion) even if the woman became pregnant as a result of rape, so I wrote a letter to the Sheik (scholar) of Al-Azhar in the voice of the bastard child that is born from this rape, and I said: "What are you giving us? You think abortion is haram but when I come to this world you don't provide me with any opportunities, there's no adoption, no institutions to take care of me, I'm considered an illegal child, I'm pelted with bricks, you don't open your mosque to me and you don't protect me, so what do you reckon?" If I saw that there's a solution to take care of this rape child… not to mention that the mother has to live with the stigma… Of course, that was a simple letter that we put together while we were at a workshop and I decided to write it and I wrote it in 10 minutes. Then when my colleagues read it they liked it and we decided to publish it. Of course it created a huge buzz because they considered that a woman has defied the Sheikh of Azhar and addressed him mockingly, telling him: what did you do to me? And I hope that God won't forgive you for this, and things like that. So, that was a confrontation but after that, I don't know if it was the Mufti of the Egyptian Republic or the Sheikh of Azhar, they approved that a raped woman has the right to get an abortion in the event of pregnancy, although the law doesn't approve it but he thought that according to religion… he didn't admit if it was because of this letter or because the issue was addressed publicly, the issue was opened in a very simple and sudden way, people didn't see the content of the issue but they were shocked as to how a woman could address the Sheikh of Azhar in that way. The title of the letter was: a letter to the Sheikh of Azhar. So that goes to show how when you first say something it shocks people and the first reaction seems to be against it, but after a while since it's logical and real, tendencies could change. Tendencies did change in many things that were realized later on, it was said that some things that were realized were because of Jihan Al-Sadat or Suzan Mubarak, because we also resorted to internal pressure as well as external pressure, we had to, because there weren't parties in Egypt, no civil society organizations, not back then and not even now they are not free and they don't have a space to speak up… So, we took advantage of the external pressure related to the idea of the convention and the article that were agreed on in the population convention, we took advantage of that. So, that pressure was practiced on the government and the government would relent and achieve some things, and then it would be said that the reason was the pressure made by the First Lady, not because… of course, the First Lady too was subjected to external pressures through the National Women's Council which could be admitted into the committee of CIDAW and file a report and then we would file a counter-report so they would be asked about a lot of things so they had to say that they were working on some things in order to look good in front of CIDAW committee… Of course, after that when something comes out like the stipulated marriage certificate or a law saying that a woman doesn't need her husband's approval to travel or legal changes like the nationality law, many things happened during that period and they were said to be Suzan Mubarak's law, of course that negated what was said about Jihan, that it was Suzan Mubarak, while that was indeed the result of the work done by the civil society basically and their attempts to use the external pressure since the internal pressure wasn't very strong, in order to influence change… And of course we thought that the change on the legal level wasn't enough, but in fact it was the beginning, when you start changing on the legal level you have the chance to achieve something… That happens all the time, even throughout history, things like setting a minimum age for marriage… and this year 2013 or the previous year 2012 the battle was about that, some people believe that in Islamic law there is no minimum age for marriage and that the Prophet married a very young girl and that if we are to follow His example there should not be a minimum age for marriage, and there were women in the previous century, in 1914 and 1920 who talked about early marriage as a disaster for women and that there should be a minimum age for marriage, and we kept raising the minimum age for marriage until it reached 18 years, and in 2012 there was talk about going back to that… but the legal change, when there were laws setting the minimum age for marriage at 16 and then 18, the parents at first object to that and sometimes they do things like in the countryside where they do something called "Tasneen" where they take a 13 year-old girl to the doctors and bribe him so that he writes that she's 18 years old, and then her father can marry her off based on that forged certificate… the parents try to work around the laws at first but later on the laws acquire a weight in the minds of people that if you ask someone if they'd marry his daughter off at 14 he would find it very weird, how could he let his daughter marry at 14? Because now there's talk about the minimum age for marriage being 18. So, the legal changes even if they don't have a strong impact in the short run but they had an impact in the long run. So, that's an effort that was made by the New Woman Foundation, along with others, it wasn't us alone, there were other organizations too and it took a long time, a decade.
N.P: During that period or before the revolution, did you join any other groups?
N.A: Before which revolution? January 25th?
N.P: Yes, January 25th.
N.A: Jnauary 25th… No, I was only part of the New Woman Foundation, but I also was part of other things like the Health and Environmental Development Association, and since I'm a doctor for elderly people so I'm part of organizations like Egypt Alzheimer's, all these are things trying to raise awareness in different aspects, they seem irrelevant to each other but sometimes there are links between them… in the Health and Environmental Development Association too women issues were present on their agenda, the idea of New Women was that we are an organization that seeks to put the awareness in gender roles on the society's agenda, be it the civil society or the government, and we managed to achieve that to a reasonable degree in my opinion. So, even in an organization like Alzheimer's or my work with the elderly, I'm involved in women issues among the elderly and I have a book about women's role in providing care for the elderly, it's a book for women, like a guide for women on how to take care of the elderly.
N.P: Were you surprised by the revolution?
N.A: Yes, I was a little surprised. I had been involved in the events that preceded it in general, for example when there were protests I would take part in them without being a part of any group or movement, sometimes I participate on behalf of New Woman, we go out as the women from New Woman and we have an opinion on a certain issue, especially the issues of democracy, we all felt that we must help build democracy in Egypt, to have freedom of speech and expression for the people and for the civil society to have the right to grow and not to be secretive or do "tricky" things in order to keep going, so we took part in all that without being a part of any organization or party or anything, either through New Woman or personally… I remember once I participated in a protest because my son was in it, my son was a young university student and he participated in the protest and by then the government had started using a very bad methods since 2005, in the first students' movement the government use dto face us either with the secret intelligent agents who work in the security apparatus but dress as civilians, but we were able to recognize them, or regular security men who wore security uniforms and we could tell they were security men… since 2005 they started to use a very asty method which is using thugs to face the political movement, and that happened for the first time or at least it was exposed for the first time when a female journalist, or lawyer I think, may she rest in peace, I think her name was Nawal, they were standing on the steps of the Journalists' union and the government sent female thugs from the prisoners who were basically pimps and hockers, they stripped the woman of her clothes at the gate of the union, it's the idea of using a method nobody can respect, any woman who's stripped of her clothes, especially an Egyptian woman, since we're generally conservative people and even those who are very liberal are conservative about exposing their bodies, they don't accept it to be exposed on the street against their will. So, they used that method and after that they started to use it at protests by getting thugs out of jails or through special relations with the police and using them to confront the people… so, that was a cause for much worry and I remember that I participated in that protest with my son because I was worried about him from the thugs, so I was there to protect him, of course we both got beaten but… and we were cussed out by thugs too, so… but I couldn't imagine having my 16 year-old son out there in these protests alone, I felt that I had to be there with him… So, after than in the 2000's as I had grown old and I couldn't go on protests and such things like before, but since my son was at the age where he started to participate in protests I was aware of the things young people do and the things that were happening and the protests. Of course he tried to hid things from us like we used to hide things from our parents too, so we would see him on TV unexpectedly, clashing with security forces or being beaten, and people protecting him, so… I knew about January 25th from my son and he had great expectations of it and his father and I would say that he must be kidding… of course, two days later… I didn't go out on January 25th, I think I went out on the 27th, it was perhaps the second or the third day actually that I went out… So, we were there, I bought a wide boot and I started living on the streets after that but of course I didn't sleep there… it also started with the idea that my son was there so I wanted to be there to watch him because the central security started beating the protesters and things like that, but that I couldn't keep an eye on him all the time because we were running back and forth… So, my participation on January 25th started with the idea that my son and his friends were on the street.
N.P: When you went out on the 28th of January, what hopes did you have for the future?
N.A: It was a shock, the idea that people changed all of a sudden, people who have been buried under the rubble for so long and said that nothing would change, the idea of these huge numbers of people taking the streets despite the police violence and the bombs

TAPE 2

Nadia Abdel Wahhab: despite the fact that people were being killed, few days after the revolution broke out we started counting deaths among protestors, and there were tanks running people over and things like that, so people were increasing in numbers, and that was surprising because before when there was violence things would subside. What happened in January was that the more violence there was, the more people took to the streets, there numbers increased. A post on facebook or some other social network says that people are being beaten up and urges people to take the streets - I didn't believe that people would take the streets - and the place would be thronging with people in an hour… Of course I was very surprised with the idea that people were not afraid. The other surprise was that people regained the ability to speak, before when we saw a TV interview with people talking on the street, people couldn't talk, they uttered meaningless expressions just to fill up spaces, they didn't say "consistent" things… suddenly it was as though Egyptians regained their ability to speak and to be able to make meaningful speeches, delivering a "message" keenly and strongly. That wasn't a familiar thing, and there were people from all social classes. Another thing that shocked me was that for the first time Egyptians weren't divided, in Tahrir square people were coexisting and living together, homeless kids were living among the tents with young people who were graduates of fancy private schools like the Freres college, the German school or the American University, and everyone was happy, there was joy over this human case. There's something I'll never forget, when a child came up to me, he's one of the homeless kids who hang around in the garden, usually I would feel that he's coming to beg for money or something but I discovered that he was coming to deliver a message for me, he came to me saying: See? Everyone is homeless now. So… it's a very powerful message and he spoke it with joy and confidence, in each other's arms, those kids were sleeping in the arms of younger people like university students and whatnot, without fear, for the first time there was no fear of simple people. And for the first time simple people were treated as human beings, equal to those who belong to higher social classes, it's something I've dreamed of since I was a child at school, for people to be able to communicate with others and not to be secluded, so that was something "striking" and very joyful for me about the revolution.
N.P: Did you expect Mubarak to step down?
N.A: After his second speech I thought he would step down, at first I didn't expect him to step down at all, I thought that the protests would be suppressed and people would go home like every time, but we will still have the memory of something great that took place. But after I saw how people persisted and stood their ground and how he gave a speech every couple of days saying meaningless things, it was obvious for me that he would step down, he was done, but who would come after him, that wasn't clear… we didn't even know what's the right thing to do, was the right thing that the old regime had been shaken and scared and should be given a chance to reform itself and we could even have a president from that same regime but one that had experienced that blow in order to keep it in mind to know how to deal with the people, or could we do more than that, some real deep change, changing the whole regime? Obviously there was a problem here because… the way we were divided and the movement and power of the civil society didn't allow a big change. There were no parties, no real powers on the ground "to take the lead", and that's what happened indeed, the only organized power was the Muslim Brotherhood so the revolution ended up being taken over by the MB. And we still have this problem three years after the revolution, the old regime and the MB are the only two organized forces until now. Of course, there's a new power rising which is the parties and whatnot, but since it's still a newly born power and because it faces clashes and attempts to weaken it by the two streams… it can't play a significant role, it can't be an influential factor in the equation.
N.P: After June 25th revolution…
N.A: It's January not June, January 25th
N.P: You joined the party immediately?
N.A: The Egyptian Democratic Party? Yes, since it was founded.
N.P: Why did you choose it?
N.A: Look, given my personal tendencies I was supposed to join a leftist party, like the Popular Coalition, I was more inclined to the left stream, my personal tendencies. But the truth is that I felt that I wanted to be somewhere where my influence may go beyond the leftist groups, I don't want to sit with the same leftist group saying the same things, having the same fights about old political stands. I felt that the left must be among the people, and that we could influence change on people if we believed in it, so what was special about the Egyptian Democratic Party was the idea that it consisted of two groups in the beginning, one group was leftist and the other was liberal. So, that was a chance to talk to new and different people, to be able to improve your awareness and reach a common understanding and whatnot, so that's what I liked about the party and I think I made the right choice… I don't regret it.
N.P: Can you talk more about the activities you participated in through the party?
N.A: I'll tell you, it spells the same idea about where I am, of course in the party we discuss political events, I'm a member in the High Committee, the political office and the executive office and the Women's Secretariat. So, since I'm the elected head of the women's secretariat; I am in the political office, the executive office and the High Committee as a result of that… Of course there are political discussions about important topics, but I don't really feel that they are relevant to me, what I'm more interested in and what made me land the position at the women's secretariat is the idea of developing the female labor force in the governorates and in the countryside, the women… because the momentum that was created in the governorates during the revolution was very "inspired" and uplifting, that women would go out and be in the square side by side with men, those women could talk very well, so I felt this was a loose end that needed to be tied, so in the party I'm interested in this issue, the idea of developing women's abilities so that women are capable of political participation, that they can run for the elections, that women not only run for the elections to win but also adopt a women agenda, an agenda that serves women, we have messages which say that any candidate male or female that we're willing to support must adopt a certain agenda or certain messages. So, that's what I'm more interested in within the party… but the issues over to vote yes or no for the constitution… I don't care very much about that, I'm not a very political person but I'm interested in administrative issues, or not administrative… personal development of people, I don't know what to call it. It's politics but a different kind of politics, politics isn't only about Israel and whatnot, politics is that people can eat and live well with dignity. I'd stand against Israel and fight this war if that would give me dignity, dignity and rights as a human being in this country… so, I'm interested in this aspect more than the theoretical political aspects or discussions.
N.P: Did you participate in the June 30th protests?
N.A: Yes, but only one time, because I was against the unconditional authorization of Sisi and the armed forces, I thought it was completely meaningless. I joined the protests because I was against the MB regime and their failed ruling system which insulted women and insulted the whole society and made us look bad even in our own eyes. But the idea that people would authorize the Armed Forces to topple that regime, I didn't approve of that. You can't authorize anyone forever like this because this way you'll be making new idols (dictators) of a nother kind or dressed up differently but still the same idols.
N.P: May I ask what was the hardest thing you faced at your work during all that time? Starting from the students' movement until now
N.A: The hardest thing, you mean the hardest situation or what? I can't recall one hardship in particular
N.P: like challenges
N.A: Challenges? The challenge is in the idea that you can say what you have to say without changing it on different occasions. For example, if you say that you are against female circumcision, I'm talking about that from a medical perspective, but when you go to the countryside they want you to talk about female circumcision from a religious perspective, whether it's allowed or prohibited. Many people say that in order to convince country people you need to use religious slogans, of course I was against that and that was the hardest situation, the religious discourse is important for people and our discourse is not a religious one so there has always been a difficulty in this regard. So, I always resorted to the fact that I was talking from a medical perspective and I told people that I was a doctor so I talked from a medical perspective, if you want to listen to my medical opinion you're free to do that, if you want to listen to the religious cleric and do what he says even if it would affect your health then you're free, what could I do? So that was the problem… sometimes I felt that I could explore religion and find progressive ideas to talk about but… if I used religion someone else might come and give another religious opinion and in the end I'm not a religious scholar and I'm not wearing a turban so, they would believe him not me. So, the right thing to do is to stand by your free opinion even if not all the people believe in it right away… another hard thing to feel was the idea… but this is not exclusive to my struggle, it had to do with my feelings because the penetration of the religious movement in the infrastructure of this country was a big challenge… starting with their interference in the way women looked and dressed and then interfering with men, that a man should shave his moustache and grow a beard and have a mark on his forehead and things like that, until interfering with people's life in things like celebrations, first we had to hold a celebration called "soboo3" then it was turned into "Aqeeqa", so we started to import a different dress code and different ideas, and that was spreading like wildfire among families and I saw it in the people around me, my doctor colleagues, I've been around these people since 1975 when we used to wear skimpy clothes until all of them started wearing hijab and niqab and doing Aqeeqa and following these traditions, of course that felt like a challenges I couldn't face because it happened on the larger scale of the society and there was no way to stop it, like fire under ashes. The strange thing is that despite that, all these women or the people I saw going through that religious transformation, these are the same people who supported Sisi against the Muslim Brotherhood. They are the same people who elected Mursi and the same people who decided to give an unconditional authorization to the Armed Forces led by Sisi to end the rule of the MB. So, I'm not rational about this… I don't know what whill happen or what will people do, sometimes I feel that there will come a day… at the beginning of Mursi's rule when it started to be clear that there was a tendency against women and whatnot, I felt that if this rule lasted for four years there will be a day when women will go up to the Nile, take off their hijabs and throw them in the Nile and then they'll walk around with their hair let down… that happened but in a different way, they kept the hijab but they renounced political Islamism and that stream, to what extent that is "genuine" and sure I cannot tell, but I can see it. Is it because they are always looking for a patriarchal society and the previous one which was a religious one didn't work for them so they wanted a military substitute which is also patriarchal? That is possible and it's a challenge, that people are still not used to taking the lead by themselves, they imagine that there must be one fair leader who would do everything for them, and they only have to be his loyal subjects. My hope is that the youth are different, our generation was like that but I feel that they youth are not like this, the youth are completely different, they might be chaotic and anarchists as they say but they don't want a patriarchal society, they want to break that mold because they suffered from it a lot.
N.P: Can we say that the revolution brought about more social changes than political ones? What do you think?
N.A: I don't know if that's true or not, it might be but I can't judge, there are things that are still hard to tell, but of course there aren't political changes as I said, the deep state is still there and the Islamist movement is there, these two major movements are there, but there's something that changes inside the people, shall we call it social change? There's something inside the mothers of martyrs that changed. There's something that changed inside the youth, there's something that changed in the city, there's something that changed in the poor… there is change of some sort, shall we call it social change? to what extent? Of course, it's obvious that there is change but how durable is it and can it stand in the face of what's coming? I can't say. If another state came, be it the deep state with police force, will it be able to muffle that voice or not? I can't say, I can't make a judgment here.
N.P: I forgot to ask you about the Egyptian Democratic Party
N.A: The Egyptian Social Democratic Party
N.P: The first time you joined…
N.A: A party? Yes that was it. It was the first time I joined a party.
N.P: You weren't in the Unionist party?
N.A: No, I wasn't.
N.P: I also want to ask whether you joined the union?
N.A: Yes, the doctors' union, I was in it and I ran in the union election once, I can't remember which year was that but I did because we were running for a list called the Young Doctors List, and that was the beginning of the Islamists who defeated us and took over power, they took over the union and stayed there ever since and the elections stopped after those elections… and they've been in power ever since, I mean in the union. They took over the doctors' union since the elections which was won by the Independence List.
N.P: May I ask you about your best memory from your work?
N.A: The best memories from my political work or for women? There's a lot, I can't say…
N.P: That's good
N.A: I'm happy with my choices in general, but I can't recall one thing in particular to say that it's a memory which stuck in my mind, but it could be the January 25th revolution, it's the liveliest experience of victory for the people.
N.P: What about your worst memories?
N.A: Worst memories… that's also associated with the revolution, when I imagine all the young people who were killed I feel appalled and all the women who lost their sons I feel appalled, we paid a steep price for the revolution, it's too high a price… So, that scares me and gives me pain to think of these young men, their faces are still in my mind and their names too, I have a flag I used to take with me to the protests on which I wrote the names of the martyrs. It was full of names and there are still names being written on it… but it seems to me that I took it painfully perhaps because I'm a mother and I imagine that my only son could've been in the place of any of those young men who were killed… but obviously those who were killed, to their friends, they were an "inspiration" for the whole generation. I remember a guy who used to carry a flag in all the protests called "Mena Daniel's flag", that was the flag carried by Mena Daniel during the protests, so after he died his friends decided to keep that flag held up, and at any protest you would see that torn flag of Mena Daniel with the cross and the crescent on it… and they would not let the flag down no matter what, even if they had to fall and die, when one of them was injured the other would take the flag, so that was something very "inspiring" for the youth, and whenever I remember how much blood was shed I can't stand the idea, it was a very steep price for the revolution, especially because they were all young people.
N.P: I forgot to ask, did you work at the hospital…
N.A: Palestine's hospital?
N.P: No, the field hospital
N.A: No, I didn't work in the field hospital, I didn't work as a doctor in the revolution, I was a protestor, I didn't work at field hospitals… because of the nature of my work too since I've been working with the elderly for a long time now so the elderly are very far from "casualties", it's a whole different "branch" of medicine, it has little to do with stitching and whatnot, so I was worried that if I was there I would be a burden rather than a helping hand.
N.P: Is there anything I didn’t ask about?
N.A: Something you didn't ask about? I didn't have anything in mind I wanted to be asked about but I hope that the things I said were useful to you and not just a waste of time.
N.A: No, it was very useful
N.A: I think that… I can tell you more about an experience related to the Egyptian Democratic Party, which is the idea that… the first meeting for the women's Secretariat, when I joined the Egyptian Democratic Party I didn't joint any secretariat, so one of my relatives, the young women in the party who knew I was an activist in the field of women issues put my name in the Women's Secretariat, although my intentions behind joining the party was supporting my name, I hadn't decided yet to be very active inside the party, so in the first meeting for the Women's secretariat they sent for me and I attended it, and it was a meeting for a large number of elegant ladies who all talks in English, or most of the talking was done in English, and they talked about what the Women's Secretariat role could be inside the party and the general tendency was that the women's secretariat would do something for charity in order to let women vote for the party later on… I remember that when I spoke I said that we are the Egyptian Democratic Party and that I felt it was nice if we all talked in Arabic so that we could understand each other and to be able to talk to the people who we were willing to work with anywhere, so we had to get used to talking in Arabic amongst each other, ad since I don’t speak English as well as you do and I'd like to follow what you're all are saying, and then I started to talk about the idea of charity and that the MB were doing that, the MB do charity to win votes, and that our approach as the Egyptian Democratic Party must be something completely different, we're supposed to be seeking to change women and make them a part of a democratic movement or a movement for the future, and… I remember that afterwards and I spoke in a very plain and simple language, I didn't imagine that my words would resonate with anyone, so afterwards I found out that everyone wanted to hear that and that assured me that I made the right choice. So that was the beginning of the change that happened in our approach in the women's committee as it was called back then. After that they were wondering how we could do that so we decided to hold a workshop about… to make a program for the Women's Secretariat and to do that through a workshop all the time, and we started by summoning different people who worked on different things, some of them had worked on CEDAW and other things, each one did a presentation on something and I remember that I did a presentation on the women's movement prior to 1952, so that people would understand that we are a continuation for something that had started before, not a new thing… after that workshop which took place over 1 and half day by giving some presentations and then we were divided into groups and each of us wrote their own envisioned version of the women's program, and we put together a great program, without any interference or anyone imposing anything, people themselves suggested different things, and we started to have a secretariat standing on real ground back then, the women's secretariat became something that sought… we now do basic work in the governorates and the idea of having election messages, that the female candidate who wants women to support her gives them reasons for that, for example: because in my election agenda I seek to secure women's movement on the streets, to have laws that allow women to move around safely… down to having street lighting and paved roads and addressing sexual harassment, all these things would be talked about by the candidate who's running for elections and wants women's votes, because women care about this, the freedom of movement is very important for most Egyptian women, maybe even more important than food and drink and everything else, to be able to move. So the idea of these election messages is that the female candidate cares about women's role and wants to do something for women, we don't only choose her because she's a woman in the sexual sense, just because she's a woman and we want women to be 50%, that doesn't mean anything. We want a woman who advocates women's rights.
N.P: Sorry?
N.A: We want a woman who advocates women's rights, who gets the votes of women because she has an agenda that's concerned with women, so… in my opinion this is something important and new because all parties view these women's secretariats as a method to attract women to the party. That our only job is to get votes for the party in any way possible, so we try to fix that, to prove that there is more to the women's secretariat and it's one of the most active bodies in the party and this is understood, it's not only me, there are those who are more radical than me who managed to impose themselves on the High Committee and the political office, they went through a fierce war, these ordinary women who were speaking in English, they became so determined that they decided to wage a war for the issue of the women's quota and our representation, that we must not be only present in numbers but in all the secretariats, that women should not be only present in the women's secretariat, the youth secretariat must have women, and so does the Professional's Secretariat, and the Vice President or General secretary must be a woman… so, they understood that idea and made big leaps that I can't even measure up to… that's is a happy thing, it was one of the happy things in my life.
N.P: Would you like to say anything else?
N.A: I don't really have anything to say other than I'm thinking of having a good retirement. I was just telling them in the Women's Secretariat that I wanted to have changes and I hoped that we could have a young woman as a secretary, that the women's secretary would be a young woman, we're supposed to have a meeting today to discuss that issue, and I'm very interested in this issue that we should have a young and "presentable" secretary, because I have a problem which is that I don't like appearing in the media, and this is a big flaw because part of how the secretariat can acquire a "status" is that its leader or the person in charge of it must be present, especially in the media, and I have a personal problem with that which I'm not able to solve, I can't appear on TV, I don't like it, shooting and such things make me nervous. So, we have hope that today we can convince the young women that one of them should take the lead, we have great girls, while the other older members and I could do other things like communicating with the other governorates and whatnot, so we would be playing other roles which will help and support them. So, I hope we will succeed in that.
N.P: I hope you will
N.A: is there anything else you'd like to ask
N.P: No, that's it
N.A: I hope that your project succeeds and that you will have…