News Archive

Middle East Peacemaker Wins Buck Award

10/25/2001

    LYNCHBURG, Va. — Jehan Sadat, internationally recognized advocate for women’s rights and peace, will be honored as the third recipient of the Randolph-Macon Woman's College’s Pearl S. Buck Award at 4:30P.M. on Saturday, October 27 in Smith Hall Theatre in the Smith Memorial Building on the campus of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. The award recognizes women whose lives and achievements reflect Buck’s commitment to human dignity and understanding, and honors the college’s most famous alumna. Previous Buck Award winners include former Philippine President Corazon C. Aquino and Sheikh Hasina, former Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Sadat, widow of slain Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, has long championed the causes of education and economic opportunity for women, particularly in the Moslem world. As Egypt’s First Lady, Sadat played a key role in reforming her country’s civil rights laws. Often called "Jehan’s Laws," statutes advanced by Sadat granted women a variety of new rights, including those to alimony and custody of children in the event of divorce. In addition, she founded the Wafa’ Wa Amal (Faith and Hope) Rehabilitation Center, which offers disabled war veterans medical and rehabilitation services and vocational training. The center, where veterans live with their families, is supported by donations from around the world. 

She has also played crucial roles in the formation of the Talla Society, a women’s cooperative in the Nile Delta region that assists women in becoming self-sufficient; the Egyptian Society for Cancer Patients and the Egyptian Blood Bank; and S.O.S. Children’s Villages in Egypt, an organization that provides orphans new homes in a family environment.

A strong supporter of her husband’s often controversial quest for Mideast peace, Sadat has made the cause her own. She has headed the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations’ International Women’s Conferences in Mexico City and Copenhagen and has participated in numerous conferences held throughout the world to promote peace. 

Sadat holds a B.A. in Arabic literature and an M.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cairo University, where she also taught. She has since been a visiting professor at American University in Washington, D.C., the University of South Carolina, and Radford University. She now lives in the United States and is a senior associate at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland, where the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development has also been endowed. 

She has received 18 honorary doctoral degrees and a number of prestigious international awards, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the United Nations Association of San Francisco and UNICEF's Children's Champion Award. She has published an autobiography, A Woman of Egypt, as well as poetry in Arabic, under a pseudonym, and is at work on a book about her life since 1981, the year her husband was assassinated.

Pearl S. Buck, for whom the award is named, graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in 1914. The first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, she was also a tireless champion of human rights. She founded Welcome House, an international adoption agency that later merged with the Pearl S. Buck Foundation to help needy children around the world. Her books, most notably "The Good Earth," helped promote understanding of Chinese culture in the United States. 

Founded in 1891, Randolph-Macon Woman's College is one of the premier women's colleges in the country, ranking among the top ten percent of all colleges and universities nationwide in the percentage of its graduates who go on to earn Ph.D's. Study at R-MWC combines coursework, internships, study abroad, and co-curricular activities in a rigorous and coherent educational program for women from 45 states and 44 countries.





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