Name: Mona Ahmed Abdel Hamid Helmy known as Mona Helmy
Mona Ahmed Helmy is a poet, short story writer and journalist. She graduated in 1976 from the College of Political Economy, University of Cairo, Egypt, was awarded a Master’s Degree in Urban Development from the University of London in 1983 and a Doctorate Degree in Environmental Studies in 1999 from the Institute of Envionmental Studies, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt. She has published collections of short stories, two volumes of poems written over the years since her graduation and several books in which she has gathered her newspaper articles.
During the past decade she has been writing a weekly article in the magazine Ros El Yousef, as well as articles, art critiques, and poems in various dailies or weeklies. She has always worked as a free lance journalist despite all the risks this entails, thus reflecting her insistence on remaining independent. Her talent as a writer, her unique style of writing which combines politics with social studies, science with art, her ability to bring together what seems contradictory in content and in form but brings to light new or hidden relations have given her the intellectual position she now occupies.
Most striking has been her consistent, and sometimes ferocious defense of women’s equality and rights, her attack on patriarchal relations, practices, double moral values, ways of thinking and habits in Egyptian society. Year after year she has continued to write, to speak out, sometimes on television if this is allowed, in the face of a mounting religious Islamic and Coptic assault on the status of women in Egypt and in Arab society where traditional patriarchal relations and values have always held sway. But she is also critical of patriarchal structures and practices in the advanced industrial countries which take another form, that of considering women as sex objects to be promoted with other commodities on the “free market”. As she sometimes writes “all over the world patriarchal rules and structures dominate, and women are considered as bodies, not minds, “bodies to be covered and veiled, or bodies to be undressed and shown.”
In a country where in the last thirty years fanatic fundamentalist religious movements have gained more and more ground, such a stand from an independent writer needs courage, the courage which keeps her going when the back lash against progress, and particularly against women’s rights keeps growing, the courage which keeps her going in the face of attacks, accusations of apostasy, warnings and threats, and the general hostility of a society ruled by men incapable of dealing with change.
During 2006 Mona Helmy raised an uproar by one of her weekly articles in Rosal Youssef Magazine ( Cairo , issue 18 March 2006 ) suggesting that when children are named they should be called after both mother and father, as a symbol that Egyptian society is beginning to give mothers their due, and as a step towards solving a part of the problems faced by illegitimate children of which two million live on the streets under conditions that in the best of terms can only be described as inhuman. A fundamentalist lawyer raised a case against her, the magistrate called her up for an enquiry on 28 January 2007 . She was brave in defending her views , she believes that to punish innocent children ( who have no father ) is against justice and all human values and principles . She won her case in court and continued to write her article weekly with more courage and commitment to justice , freedom and love .
Her article on 18 March 2006 ( to give honor to the child who carry the name of the mother ) created a new debate in the Egyptian media and newspapers It encouraged people to break taboos , to challenge double standards and injustices related to illegitimate children and their mothers . Even religious scholars participated in the public debate on TV , and some of them supported Mona Helmy`s views in her article .
This public debate continued and encouraged the government to issue a new law last year ( 2008 ) giving the unmarried mother the right to give her child her family name . This new law will save the life of many children and give them the right to be registered legally , the right to enter schools and all other human rights given to other children born inside marriage .
The courage of Mona Helmy as a journalist and writer helped millions of poor children and mothers in Egypt to have their basic human rights and dignity . She continues her struggle through writing in spite of increasing threats and attacks against her by retrograde powers in the society
Address 19B Mahad Nasser Street, Floor 20, Shoubra 11241, Cairo, Egypt
- Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Studies, University of Ain Shams, Cairo 1998
- Master’s Degree in Urban Development, London University, London 1982
- Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, Cairo University 1977
- Researcher in the Pharmaceutical Company ACDEMA 1978-1982 Cairo.
- Researcher in the Institute of Sociological and Criminological Studies, Embabeh, Cairo 1982-1995
Present Occupation: Writer, Poet, Essayist, and Dramaturge.
Collection Short Stories:
1. “Agmal Youm Akhtalafna Feeh”
(That Beautiful Day When We Quarrelled)
Madboli Publishing House Cairo 1987
2. “Bidoun Awrak”
(A Tree Without Leaves)
Madboli Publishing House Cairo 1990
3. “Al Bahr Baynana”
(The Sea Lies Between Us)
Soad-El Sabah Publishing House Cairo 1993
4. “Al Hob Ma’ a Moghamir Mourtabik”
(Love With a Hesitant Adventurer)
El Hauna’ El Masrriya Lilkitab 1999
5. Habibaty Alty Kanat
(My Lover That Was
Suprem Council of Culture Publishing House Cairo, 2004
1. “Hatif Al Sabah”
(The Early Morning Caller), Cairo Publisher, 1991
2. `El-Ashya`a El Hareba”
(The Things That Slip Away)
Merit Publishing House, Cairo 2004
Essays and Articles (Collections)
1. “Ragoul Gadeed Fil Oufouk”
(A New Man On the Horizon)
Arab Women Solidarity Association Publishing House 1988
2. “Al Houb Fi Asr Al Awlama”
(Love in a Global Age)
Dav El Maaref Publishing House 2000
1. “A Cup of a Turkish Coffee” A short story translated to Italian 2001 in the book of “Rose del Cairo” edizionie/10
2. “Travelling into the Impossible”: Collection of Poems, ( translated to English) published in U.S.A. by Litterae Mundi Translatae an imprint of World View Media , 2009
Forth Coming Books
1. Malikat Al Gamal wa Malikat Al lbda`a
(Beauty Queens versus Creative Queens) [Essays]
2. Do Not Forgive Me (A Collection of Poems)
3. A Man Does Not Obey, A Woman Does Not Surrender
A large number of articles and essays published in daily newspapers, and in weekly or monthly magazines and reviews on a range of subjects including women, culture, literature, music, politics, environment, religion, poverty, and sex problems.
1. The Tymour Prize for short stories 1993. For her collection entitled “Al Bahr Baynana.
2. The Tymour Prize for short stories 2001. (First Prize) for her collection entitled “Al Houb Ma’a Moghamir Mortabik.
3.Prize of the Egyptian Writers` Union 2009 for her latest poetry book , ' Traveling Into The impossible ' which was translated to English May 2009.
Other Literary Activities
1. She has written several series of programs broadcast on radio about women, life and literature, including two major programs that ran for many months under the title “Sabah Al Khair” (Good Morning) and “Yawmiyat Imra’a Asreya” (Diary of a Contemporary Woman).
2. Two short stories were written by her as plays for the radio.
3. She wrote the scenario of a TV film entitled “Sama’a Gadida (A new Sky).
4. She wrote the scenario of a TV series (15 illustrations) entitled “Mathak Aakhlan Lil Hob” (Love with a Different Flavour)
1. Secretary General of the “Arab Women’s Solidarity Association
2. Member of the Egyptian Writers’ Union
3. Founder of Al Meltaqua a literary group which meets weekly on Tuesday.
4. Participation in a number of conferences on women and literature in Egypt, and abroad
5. Member of the “Fine Arts Association.”
6. Member of the Association of “Fighting against Traffic in Women” (Holland)
7. Co-Founder of musical band: “The Dream” which presented several concerts in different places. It depends on new, original words of songs and music.
8. Attended many and various National and International Conferences.
9. Supervisor of the musical band “Horeya”-Freedom- She established with some of her talented friends..
Telephone: (202) 2 203-7378
Facsimile: (202) 2 203-5001
Traveling into the impossible
Poems by Mona Helmy
"Although a very different writer and personality from Mai Ziada
or Fadwa Toukan, Mona Helmy nevertheless shows a similar
interest in creating a new language and new metaphors. In her
poems she draws on her creative power to deepen her insight. She
studied economics and politics and obtained her PhD in
environmental science, so her feet are firmly planted on the
ground and in reality, but her thoughts fly up into open space.
She loves flying, yet prefers swimming in deep water. She
prefers humanity to divinity. She celebrates women's freedom
physically and mentally, and her chosen subject is love."
From the Foreword by Nawal El Saadawy.
I Shall be as I am
I shall be as I am,
not as men's desires draw me,
not as myths have depicted me.
I shall be a ship that cuts through the sea
and rises to the highest sky.
I shall be a prophecy which
gives the lie to falsehood.
© Arab World