Born in Minya, she was a daughter of Muhammad Sultan, the first president of the Egyptian Representative Council, and was taught to read the Qur'an and tutored in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Islamic subjects by Muslim women teachers in Cairo. She wrote poetry in both Arabic and French. She was married to her cousin, Ali Shaarawi, a leading political activist. Ali Pasha Shaarawi played an integral role in his wife's emergence as a public figure, actively supporting her feminist movement and often including her in his political conferences and meetings. It was no secret that Ali Pasha often sought his wife's council and, on numerous occasions, had her sit in his stead in high level political meetings.
Even as a young woman, she showed her independence by entering a department store in Alexandria to buy her own clothes instead of having them brought to her home. She helped to organize Mubarrat Muhammad Ali, a women's social service organization, in 1909 and the Union of Educated Egyptian Women in 1914, the year in which she traveled to Europe for the first time. She helped lead the first women's street demonstration during the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, and was elected president of the Wafdist Women's Central Committee.
In 1923 Shaarawi founded and became the first president of the Egyptian Feminist Union, after returning from the International Alliance for Woman suffrage Congress in Rome. Upon her return, she removed her face veil in public for the first time, a signal event in the history of Egyptian feminism. She led Egyptian women pickets at the opening of Parliament in January 1924 and submitted a list of nationalist and feminist demands, which were ignored by the Wafdist government, whereupon she resigned from the Wafdist Women's Central Committee. She continued to lead the Egyptian Feminist Union until her death, publishing the feminist magazine l'Egyptienne (and el-Masreyya), and representing Egypt at women's congresses in Graz, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Marseilles, Istanbul, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Interlaken, and Geneva. She advocated peace and disarmament. Even if only some of her demands were met during her lifetime, she laid the groundwork for later gains by Egyptian women and remains the symbolic standard-bearer for their liberation movement.
- عصر الحریم - یحکی مذکرات المرأة المصریة فی الفترة ما بین (1880–1924) - Translated to English by Margot Badran.
- ويكيبيديا contributors, "هدى شعراوي," ويكيبيديا, الموسوعة الحرة, http://ar.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%89_%D8%B4%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%8A&oldid=1810793 (accessed يونيو 22, 2008).