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antiapartheid activist, medical doctor, and South African politician, was born in KwaZulu-Natal on 27 January 1949, the eldest of eight children. In defiance of popular practice at the time, her father, a rural Catholic schoolteacher, insisted that she receive a formal education. She was sent to Adams College in Amanzimtoti (then called the Amanzimtoti Zulu Training School) where she completed high school in 1967. She earned her BSc with majors in zoology and botany from the University of Zululand in 1971, before moving to the University of Natal to work as a research technician and to study medicine. Here she became involved with student politics, working as an underground operative for the African National Congress (ANC), and, alongside fellow University of Natal student Steve Biko, serving as a member of the South African Students Organisation, to which she was elected as deputy president in 1976 the ...

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Elisabeth Bekers

Egyptian feminist, physician, fiction writer, and political activist, was born in the village of Kafr Tahla, near Cairo, Egypt, on 27 October 1931. She was the second of nine children born to al-Sayed El Saadawi (1897–1959), a peasant family’s son who became an inspector in the Ministry of Education, and Zayneb Hanem Shoukry (1913–1958), daughter of an impoverished feudal family descending from Grand Vizier Talaʿat Pacha of Istanbul. Both of her parents were anxious to have their daughters as well as their sons educated. Nawal El Saadawi began her schooling at Muharram Bey Girls’ School in Alexandria, where the family briefly lived until al-Sayed was transferred to the small district town of Menouf in the Nile Delta in punishment for his participation in anti-British and antiroyal demonstrations. From 1938 until 1948 the El Saadawis remained in Menouf where Nawal attended the English primary school Despite his aversion to ...