Alaa Salah

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Alaa Salah
Alaa Salah by Lana H. Haroun.jpg
Alaa Salah in the image that went viral as a symbol of the 2018–19 Sudanese protests
آلاء صلاح Edit this on Wikidata
Alma mater
  • Sudan International University Edit this on Wikidata

Alaa Salah (Arabic: آلاء صلاح‎, Sudanese: [ʔaːˈlaːʔ sˤɑˈlaːħ]; born 1996/1997) is a Sudanese student and anti-government protester. She gained world-wide media attention from a picture of her taken by Lana Haroun that went viral in April 2019. The image of Salah has been dubbed as "Woman in White" or "Lady Liberty" of Sudan.[1][2] As a member of MANSAM, one of the main Sudanese women's networks who signed the 1 January 2019 Forces of Freedom and Change declaration,[3] Salah gave a speech at the 29 October 2019 meeting of the United Nations Security Council, insisting that in the Sudanese transitionary institutions women have equal representation to men.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Alaa Salah was born in either 1996 or 1997. Her mother is a fashion designer and her father works in the construction industry.[6] She studies engineering and architecture at Sudan International University in Khartoum.[7]

2018–19 Sudan protests/Revolution[edit]

Since December 2018, a series of protests against President Omar al-Bashir took place, demanding economic reforms and the resignation of the president. A state of emergency was declared in February 2019 as a result of the protests. April 6 and 7 saw the largest protests since the declaration of the state of emergency. In continuing protests, the army was seen protecting protesters from the security forces on April 10.[8][9][10][11] Eventually the protests led to the military removing al-Bashir from power, installing a transitional council in his place led by Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, but the demonstrators, including Salah, claimed it was just a change of leadership of the same regime and demanded a civilian transitional council.[12]


As protests continued, on April 8 Lana Haroun took an image of an initially unnamed woman dressed in a white thoub standing on a car, who spoke to and sang with other women around her during a sit-in near the army headquarters and the presidential palace.[13] The image was widely shared on social media and caught international media attention. The image has been described as symbolic of the crucial role of women in the success of the demonstrations, since the vast majority of protesters, almost 70 per cent, have been women.[6][2][7] Sudanese women played major political roles in Sudanese and Africa-wide human rights struggles since the 1950s via the Sudanese Women's Union,[14][15] continued creating organisations such as the No to Oppression against Women Initiative in 2009,[16] and remained politically active during the 2018–2019 Sudanese Revolution.[17][18]

Salah's white robe, a traditional Sudanese thoub, recalled the dress of female Sudanese protesters against previous dictatorships, as well as that of student protesters who were referred to as "Kandakas" after ancient Nubian queens.[19] Her golden earrings are traditional feminine wedding attire.[19] Commentators called the pose "the image of the revolution".[19] Hala Al-Karib, a Sudanese women's rights activist said: "It is a symbol of an identity of a working woman — a Sudanese woman that's capable of doing anything, but still appreciates her culture."[20]

MANSAM and UNSC speech[edit]

As a member of MANSAM, one of the major Sudanese women's networks who signed the 1 January 2019 Forces of Freedom and Change declaration,[3] Salah gave a speech at the 29 October 2019 meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).[4]

Salah stated that despite women often having constituted 70% of protestors, they were "side-lined in the formal political process" of creating transitional institutions. She stated that women's representation in the new governance structure "[fell] far below [their] demand of 50% parity". She argued that "there is no excuse for [women] not to have an equal seat at every single table". She summarised her argument for women's representation stating,

Salah also called for judicial accountability and disarmament; and for the political process to be inclusive of women, "civil society, resistance groups, ethnic and religious minorities, those who have been displaced, and people with disabilities in order to lead to sustainable peace".[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gianluca Mezzofiore. "This woman has come to symbolize Sudan's protests". CNN. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  2. ^ a b "Woman in white goes viral as symbol of Sudan's uprising". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2019-04-11. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  3. ^ a b "Declaration of Freedom and Chang". SPA. 2019-01-01. Archived from the original on 2019-11-04. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  4. ^ a b "Security Council Urges Recommitment to Women, Peace, Security Agenda, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2492 (2019)". United Nations. 2019-10-29. SC/13998. Archived from the original on 2019-11-04. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  5. ^ a b Salah, Alaa (2019-11-04). "Statement by Ms. Alaa Salah at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security". NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Archived from the original on 2019-11-04. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  6. ^ a b Salih, Zeinab Mohammed (2019-04-10). "'I was raised to love our home': Sudan's singing protester speaks out". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  7. ^ a b "This Woman Stood On Top Of A Car And Became An Icon Of Sudan's Historic Protests". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  8. ^ Reuters (2019-01-17). "Sudanese police fire on protesters demanding president step down". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  9. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Sudanese spy chief 'met head of Mossad to discuss Bashir succession plan'". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  10. ^ "Le mouvement de protestation s'embrase au Soudan" (in French). 2019-04-08. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  11. ^ Mullany, Gerry (2019-04-11). "Sudan's Military to Make Announcement Amid Protests Against Omar Hassan al-Bashir". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  12. ^ Maclean, Ruth (2019-04-11). "Mood in Sudan shifts to anger as the army prepares to seize power". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  13. ^ "Poetic photo of Sudan's 'Lady Liberty' sheds light on anti-government protests". ABC News. 2019-04-10. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  14. ^ Osman, Amira (2014). "Beyond the pan-Africanist agenda: Sudanese women's movement, achievements and challenges" (PDF). Feminist Africa (19): 43. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-10-02. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  15. ^ Charles, Khalil (2017-08-15). "Friends and foes unite to honour Sudan's first female MP". Middle East Monitor. Archived from the original on 2019-10-02. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  16. ^ Ali, Abdelmoneim Abu Edries (2009-08-05). "Protests at Sudan woman's trouser trial". WA Today. Archived from the original on 2019-10-24. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
  17. ^ "Sudan Activist: 'Committee of Inquiry should include women'". Radio Dabanga. 2019-10-23. Archived from the original on 2019-10-23. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
  18. ^ "Sudan signs power-sharing deal as its former dictator goes to trial". Vox. 2019-08-19. Archived from the original on 2019-08-19. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  19. ^ a b c Friedman, Vanessa (2019-04-10). "'It's going to be the Image of the Revolution'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  20. ^ O'Grady, Siobhán (2019-04-09). "The woman in white: Why a photo from the Sudan protests has gone viral". ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2019-04-10.