Nabawya Musa: Breaking Barriers, Empowering Women, and Revolutionizing Education in Egypt

Nabawya Musa: Breaking Barriers, Empowering Women, and Revolutionizing Education in Egypt

Nabawya Musa is considered a symbol of strength, diligence, and perseverance; she insisted on completing her education and standing against the reactionary customs and traditions at that time. She has become the first Egyptian girl to obtain a baccalaureate degree. Moreover, she was the first headmistress and the first inspector known by the Ministry of Education in Egypt, although these jobs were restricted to only English women at that time.

Nabawya Musa was educated, so she realized that a woman’s weapon is her education and culture. She also realized that what girls lack in Egypt is education and nothing else, so she worked, persevered, and fought for women's rights and the importance of their education. She defended women's right to education and equality between men and women, and she became a role model for girls in Egypt.

Nabawya Musa was born in Kafr al-Hakama in Zagazig in 1886, and her father was an officer in the Egyptian army. Nabawya Musa spent her childhood in the family home and learned to read and write at the age of six. She loved reading and literature, especially reading poetry and stories. When she reached the age of thirteen, she wanted to complete her education, but she was subjected to strong objection from her family. Despite the objection of her family and society, in addition to the reactionary customs and traditions that rejected girls' education, Nabawya Musa insisted on completing her education.


Nabawya Musa entered the secondary stage, and she was the first girl to enroll in a secondary school in Egypt. At that time, she caused a great stir and controversy because she was the first Egyptian girl to obtain a secondary certificate and took such a bold step. Indeed, she obtained a baccalaureate degree in 1907, then a female teacher’s diploma in 1908. She was the first woman to work in the Ministry of Education and get paid for her work in teaching, and she sparked a wider controversy when she assumed the leadership of the Muhammadiyah School in Fayoum, to be the first woman to take over the management of a school.

Nabawya Musa opened the field and paved the way for all the girls of her age to complete their education; the girls began to apply to enroll in the secondary school and obtain a baccalaureate degree. After her work as a teacher, Nabawya worked in the field of journalism; she used to write press articles and publish them in some Egyptian newspapers such as “Misr Al-Fatah” and “Al-Jarida”. She supported women's issues and wrote a book entitled "The Fruit of Life in Educating a Girl".

Nabawya Musa succeeded in spreading girls’ education in Egypt, although she was exposed to a lot of criticism from those who look down on educated and working women, but she sought and strived to reach her goal and dream, which is to raise awareness of women’s education and stand up against ignorance and oppression.

The period between 1937 and 1943 is considered one of the brightest, most successful, and most active periods of Nabawya Musa. In addition to running her schools in Cairo, Mansoura, Fayoum, and Alexandria, she participated in educational activities and educational conferences.

Nabawya Musa passed away on April 30, 1951, and left behind a record full of achievements; she deserves the title of a pioneer in educating Egyptian girls.