A world figure and widow of late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Madame Jehan Sadat has been active in the women’s movement both in her own country and throughout the world. She was responsible for the Egyptian Civil Rights Law that resulted in more rights for women. A long time political activist, Madame Sadat worked closely with her husband in his quest for peace.
Madame Jehan el-Sadat was born in Cairo, Egypt. She met her husband for the first time on her 15th birthday. Anwar Sadat had just served a 2 ½ year prison sentence, was out of the army, out of a job and alone. She admired him for his courage, his loyalty to his country and his determined resistance against the occupation authorities. Despite her family’s initial objections, they were married.
Madame Sadat began her social activities several years before Mr. Sadat became president - she started a women’s emancipation movement in her village of Talla, aimed at helping women become less dependent on their husbands and more self-sufficient.
Madame Sadat does not challenge the traditional family structure in Egypt in which the husband is the head of the family, but she does call for greater participation by women in public life. To this end, she headed the Egyptian Delegation to the International Women’s Conference in Mexico City in 1975. In 1976, Madame Sadat pushed a new Civil Rights Law through the Egyptian parliament, giving more rights to women and more security to the family. She was elected chairman of her village council for five consecutive years and is founder of the Arab African Women’s League.
Among the many organizations and charitable associations that Madame Sadat founded and/or headed are: The Egyptian Red Crescent Society; The Egyptian Blood Bank Society; The Egyptian Society for Cancer Patients; the Egyptian Society for Biomedical Engineering The Scientific Association for Egyptian Women; The Higher Committee for Children; The Egyptian Society for the Welfare of University and Higher Institute Students and The Egyptian Society for the Preservation of Antiquities.