Jehan Sadat—an internationally renowned advocate for peace, for women’s rights, and for education, with strong ties to the university community—died on July 9 at the age of 87.
Sadat was the widow of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated in 1981. She was instrumental in founding and promoting the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, which was established in 1997 and is housed in UMD’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
“Dr. Sadat faced great tragedy and challenges with compassion, dignity and humanity. Her legacy is that of a peacemaker who knew that the work of global understanding must be the work of every nation and every individual,” President Darryll Pines said. “She was a courageous advocate for peace, for the rights of women, for the protection of families, and for education. Our university community remains inspired by her work and her friendship.”
The Chair furthers dialogue for peace in the Middle East and abroad, bridges the gap between the academic and policy worlds and maintains a rigorous research agenda. The Chair’s incumbent, Dr. Shibley Telhami, is an internationally renowned policy and diplomacy expert.
“Dr. Sadat was a humble, kind, and gracious woman of Egypt who passionately loved her country as she relentlessly pushed for gender equality and just peace. She was a shining light who established her own path and legacy. In her passing, the University of Maryland, and I personally, lose a dear and loyal friend. She will be missed,” said Professor Telhami.
Jehan Sadat was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1933. On May 29, 1949, Jehan married Anwar Sadat, thus beginning a journey in pursuit of peace and security that would last for more than 32 years with a man who would become the President of Egypt. She was a graduate of Cairo University, earning a baccalaureate degree, a master’s degree, and a doctorate degree.
Dr. Sadat led numerous efforts to gain agency and equality for women in Egypt, heading Egyptian delegations to international women’s conferences. She founded the African-Arab Women’s League.
She established the Wafa’ Wal Amal (Faith and Hope) Society in Egypt in 1972, with facilities and services dedicated to war veterans and to civilians who suffered from conflict. She also founded the S.O.S. Children’s Villages in Egypt, to serve and protect orphans, as well as numerous charitable organizations, including the Egyptian Blood Bank.
Following the assassination of President Sadat, after a period of deep mourning, Dr. Sadat resumed her role as educator, lecturer, and social activist, promoting the women’s rights and international peace. She served as an Associate Resident Scholar at UMD, in addition to promoting the efforts of the Sadat Chair.
Dr. Sadat published “My Hope for Peace” (Simon & Schuster) in 2009.
The peace legacy of both Dr. Sadat and President Sadat will continue through the activities and efforts of the Sadat Chair.
One key mission of the Sadat Chair is to host lectures on topics related to peace from luminaries including the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, and former President Jimmy Carter. The university community has greatly benefitted from these lectures, and from the Sadat Chair’s events, publications and peace-related art competitions.
“We mourn the passing of Jehan Sadat and are inspired to continue her work to address the most challenging issues of the day by seeking just peace, and by respecting the humanity and equality of all people,” Dean Greg Ball said.