Photograph from an Independence Protest, Alexandria, Egypt, 1919
Following the close of World War I, Egypt became a hotbed of anti-colonial nationalism. Leaders of the nationalist Wafd party formally demanded Egyptian independence to British and US officials, utilizing many of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s own phrases and rhetoric in their appeals. In March, 1919, British authorities arrested nationalist leaders, and mass demonstrations erupted in Egyptian cities in support of national independence.
Feminists movements also began to emerge amidst this nationalist sentiment, and many nationalist organizations and demonstrations featured women as central players. Upper class Egyptian women typically wore a veil in public, as seen in the photograph of unnamed women protesting in Alexandria, Egypt, in April, 1919. Although this photograph circulated in the U.S. with a caption claiming that it showed the first instance of Egyptian women speaking out, this was neither the first nor the last time that Egyptian women participated in mass politics.
"Harem women make public speeches," The Madison Journal 7, no. 34 (28 June 1919), via Wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Harem_women_make_public_speeches...)