Salma El-Wardany, Walid Ebeid & Others: Modern Feminist Figures In The Arab World

‘Feminism’ in the Arab world challenges traditional norms, changing the narrative of women’s rights in the region. In a society where women may be portrayed as oppressed and victimized, highlighting figures who unapologetically bring women’s voices to the forefront is only one way to empower them.

So, let’s see some of our favorite modern feminist figures in the region — ones who speak authentically, breaking free from any restrictions.

Salma El-Wardany

Via Diversity & Inclusion

Egyptian Irish feminist, poet, and author of ‘These Impossible Things,’ El-Wardany is a cornerstone of modern-day feminism. A dive into her social media, where she’s very active, features her as someone who manages to break the shackles of patriarchy with confidence.

El-Wardany is probably one of the greatest deconstructionists of patriarchy and sexism. Her body positivity, clarity of purpose, and outspokenness act as a ray of hope for girls who have yet to break free, proving that liberation is indeed possible.

Ghadeer Ahmed

Ghadeer is a contemporary Egyptian feminist with a Master’s degree in Gender and Women’s Studies in the MENA region. She recently published a book titled ‘Abortion Tales,’ which discusses one of the world’s taboo topics: child abortion.

Ghadeer is probably one of the most authentic Arab feminists of the 21st century. She brings her real self on social media, fearlessly calling out patriarchy while embracing her femininity without restrictions.

Her resilience is contagious; it’s not every day that we witness someone boldly standing on the other side of societal norms.

Via Instagram

Walid Ebeid

Ebeid is a male painter who grew up in Yemen. Most of his art is dedicated to deconstructing representations of Arab women, offering portrayals that counter their romanticized mysticism.

In Ebeid’s paintings, women are depicted as imperfect and multidimensional, with utmost depth; they carry secrets and stories within their eyes and bodies. Some of them are presented as entrapped victims, while others are portrayed as free souls, yet all are always beautiful in their own way.

Via Instagram

Mona Eltahawy

She’s loud, unconventional, and authentic — three reasons why Mona Eltahaway is on the top of the list of most loathed feminists. However, for the same reasons, she’s on our list of authentic Arab women who defy Western stereotypes, one hair color at a time.

Mona is a feminist writer known for bestsellers ‘7 Necessary Sins For Women & Girls’ and ‘Headscarves & Hymens: Why MidEast Needs a Sexual Revolution.’

Eltahawy’s journey starts from Cairo to the religious community of Saudi Arabia, all the way to New York, where she currently lives. She has taken every chance to call out patriarchal power structures, especially in the Muslim world, while also providing political commentary. She speaks her mind unapologetically.


Reyhaneh Jabbari

This one might seem odd or at least quite different from the rest on this list. Yet, for good reason, the Iranian Jabbari, who received a death sentence in an Iranian court for killing her rapist, is no different than the other figures here. She was bold, outspoken, and defiant till her last breath — she lost her life while seeking justice.

A recent depiction of this horrific story of Jabbari was featured in the 2023 film ‘Seven Winters in Tehran,’ directed by Steffi Niederzoll.


These are just five examples among lots of names, some known, many others still unrecognized. What these figures have offered to the narrative is of great importance because, for once, there emerges a voice that’s not passive nor claims a victim mindset.

They’re not only an inspiration to all ladies out there but also a testament that Arab women aren’t monotonous; they exist in a large spectrum of identities that have progress as well as setbacks, failures, and triumphs.

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