Jihan El-Sadat, the widow of the late Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat, died early this morning at the age of 88, in a Cairo hospital where she had been treated for days, after returning from a long medical trip in the United States.
The Egyptian presidency mourned Jihan El-Sadat, and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi decided to award her the Order of Perfection, with her name given to the Paradise axis (about 9 kilometers long, east of Cairo), according to a presidential statement.
Jihan Safwat Raouf was born on August 29, 1933 on Rawda Island in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, the daughter of Egyptian doctor Safwat Raouf and British Gladys Charles Cottrell, who met in England while Safwat was studying medicine at Sheffield University, and she was the third of four children.
Jihan El-Sadat attended a public school for girls and received an excellent education and learned English, Standard Arabic, Mathematics and Science.
Jihan El-Sadat, unlike the wives of previous Egyptian leaders, played a prominent role in Egyptian politics, especially in advancing the cause of women’s rights.
In 1967, she established a cooperative in the village of Tala, Menoufia Governorate, to which her husband belongs, so that peasant women could obtain a degree of economic independence from their husbands by learning handicrafts.
During the 1973 war, she headed the Egyptian Red Crescent and the Egyptian Blood Bank Association, and was the honorary president of the Supreme Council for Family Planning. She was also the president of the Egyptian Society for Cancer Patients, the Society for the Preservation of Egyptian Antiquities, the Scientific Society of Egyptian Women, and the Society for the Welfare of University and Higher Institute Students, which raised funds. To purchase books and clothing for students, it has also set up an orphanage and a rehabilitation facility for disabled warriors.
In 1979, her influence on her husband led to the issuance of a set of laws, and 30 seats in the Egyptian parliament were allocated to women, and women were granted the right to divorce due to polygamy and retain custody of their children.
After her 40s, Jihan joined Cairo University to study Arabic literature and graduated in 1978, obtained a master’s degree and began lecturing in 1980.
After the assassination of her husband, the late President Anwar El-Sadat, Jihan isolated herself from the outside world for a year in mourning for her husband. When she got out of that difficult period, she resumed lecturing and preparing a doctorate at Cairo University.
In 1984, Jihan El-Sadat lectured at the University of South Carolina, USA, from which she obtained an honorary doctorate in 1979 after the university president asked her to.