Ester Akhnoukh Fanous, known by Ester
Wissa was born on February 19th in 1895 in
Assiut. She is the daughter of doctor
Akhnoukh Fanous and Balsam Wissa. She is
graduated from the P.M.I. The national and
religious atmosphere dominating her parents'
house had a great influence on her
personality; she accordingly knew the freedom
through the ideas and opinions raised within
her family and through the valuable books
existing in her father's library. She revolted
against the British colonialism in early 1919,
when the famous lawyer, Makram Ebeid, a
friend of their family visited them where she knew that Saad Zaghloul Pasha
intended with some friends to travel to England demanding to lift British
mandate on Egypt.
Feeling grief when the demonstrations overwhelmed Cairo
and the British shot the demonstrators, Ester wrote to the President of the
U.S.A, Nelson saying: "Four persons were sent to fight in this battle" (she
means Saad Zaghloul and his friends), "if it is urgent we will send 4 hundreds
may be 4 thousands or 4 millions to liberate the 4 precedents. Triple of this
number insists to establish justice in our homeland. Elders regain their strength,
men are valiant and women are virile".
Ester traveled to Cairo to meet with
Safia Zaghloul who proposed the signature of three women on the message
dedicated to President Wilson. Hundred women were gathered to sign this
message and submit their objections; then they went in a feminist demonstration
raising their flags and chanting slogans. After a long march, they were besieged
by a group of the British army positioned in the capital streets. One among
demonstrators shouted: "Kill me if you want". Ester and the women continued
Ester met with Hoda Shaarawi. Together, they decided to
establish a committee representing the women of Egypt acting jointly with the
delegation. In the church of Al-Morcossia, the women hold a meeting and
three women voiced for the committee. Hoda Shaarawi was nominated as a
chair and Fekria Hosny, Ehsan Al-Qoussy and Ester Wissa were nominated as
secretaries. In her speech delivered on women emancipation and the remove
of their veils, Ester Wissa said: "After Saad Zaghloul and his friends had been
released from Malta, the women committee hold a meeting to celebrate this
occasion. When Fekria Hosni was ready to deliver her speech and she was
veiled, Saad Zaghloul removed her veil. Ever since women removed their
veils". They hold a political meeting in a mosque where they delivered their
speeches for the first time with men.
On March 1923, Ester Wissa established
with other women the "Egyptian Feminist Union" to improve women's level in
literature and social aspect to promote them and be treated on equal footing
with men in rights and obligations. She was involved in other associations such
as: "Young Women Christian Association" and "Labor Association of Egypt"
as well as other charitable associations.
After being deeply grieved of her
children's death and suffering deeply from her illness, Ester Wissa passed away
on August 1990 leaving a significant influence of national unity and the
endeavour to emancipate Egyptian Women.