Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Cairo-based guest artist Deena Mohamed, celebrates Egyptian lawyer Mufidah Abdul Rahman on her 106th birthday.
Born in Cairo on 19 January 1914, she was among the first women to graduate from Cairo University’s Faculty of Law and became the premier female attorney in Egypt. Her determined efforts in and out of the courtroom helped forge the path to political equality for Egyptian women.
While practicing law, Abdul Rahman built relationships with like-minded women advocates and was inspired to co-found the National Feminist Party, a women’s organisation fighting for universal suffrage in Egypt. Her social advocacy led her to be recruited into Bint al-Nil (“Daughter of the Nile”), a feminist union seeking to overcome sociocultural repressions that the women of her era faced.
In 1951, Bint al-Nil founder Doria Shafik led an interruption at the Egyptian Parliament to demand women’s right to vote and hold political office. In response, Shafik was summoned to court and handpicked the esteemed Abdul Rahman to defend her.
Considered to be a case against not only Shafik, but also the Egyptian women’s rights movement as a whole, the trial presented a critical opportunity for advocates to have their voices heard. Abdul Rahman’s impassioned defence of Shafik fanned the flames of the cause, and that landmark case helped Egyptian women take their right to vote in 1956.
This Doodle also highlights the more personal moments in Abdul Rahman’s life, from being the young lawyer who received payment in eggs and fruits to the mother who enjoyed a rich family life with her nine children and supportive husband.
Throughout her distinguished career, Abdul Rahman defended over 400 court cases, became a member of Egyptian Parliament, and never stopped fighting for justice.