Daughter of the Nile Union
The Daughter of the Nile Union, or Bint al-Nil union, was a women's group founded by Duriya (or Doria) Shafiq (1908–1975) in Egypt in 1948, three years after launching a journal by the same name, Bint al-Nil.
Shafiq was the protégée of Huda Sha'rawi, the pioneering feminist and first woman in Egypt to unveil in 1923 (Malti-Douglas 1991). After Sha'rawi's death in 1947, Shafiq and other women formed the Daughter of the Nile Union, which contested repressive social, cultural, and legal obstacles to the full equality of women. Shafiq believed that only women understood other women's suffering and surrounded herself with a group of notable and prominent women, such as Samiha Mahir; Wasfiyya Shoukri; Mufida Abdul Rahman, the first woman in Egypt to earn a law degree; and Zaynab Labib, the first woman to serve at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Egypt (Nelson 1996). The Daughter of the Nile movement also broadened its outreach to awaken poor women, launching literacy centers and health programs in disadvantaged towns.
Because women's conditions were changing at a slow pace, the Daughter of the Nile movement undertook a more drastic approach and transformed itself into a militant movement. Its members clashed with Egyptian authorities over political rights, protested at the Parliament in 1951, and fasted and were arrested on numerous occasions (Badran and Cooke 2004, Badran 1995). Shafiq and Munira Thabet, among others, went on a hunger strike in 1954 in demand of women's political rights (Wassef and Wassef 2001).
The impact of the Daughter of the Nile movement was felt by women's communities throughout the world (Nelson 1996). Along with scores of other women, Shafiq spearheaded the movement that won the Egyptian women's right to vote in 1956 (Wassef and Wassef 2001). Though they countered foreign hegemonies, these feminists had to oppose religious fundamentalists' views that they were complicit with colonial institutions as they demanded their right to vote, an end to polygamy, and a change to divorce laws (Nelson 1996). The movement gained the support of some distinguished intellectual men such as Taha Hussein.
Badran, Margot. 1995. Feminists, Islam, and Nation: Gender and the Making of Modern Egypt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Badran, Margot, and Miriam Cooke, eds. 2004. Opening the Gates: An Anthology of Arab Feminist Writing. 2nd edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Baron, Beth. 1994. The Women's Awakening in Egypt: Culture, Society, and the Press. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Malti-Douglas, Fedwa. 1991. Woman's Body, Woman's Word: Gender and Discourse in Arabo-Islamic Writing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Nelson, Cynthia. 1996. Doria Shafik, Egyptian Feminist: A Woman Apart. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Wassef, Hind, and Nadia Wassef, eds. 2001. Daughters of the Nile: Photographs of Egyptian Women's Movements, 1900–1960. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press.