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We welcome Leila Aboulela as our new patron to Women’s Education Partnership

Women’s Education Partnership. 

Leila Aboulela – Our New Patron

Women’s Education Partnership (WEP) is proud and honoured to announce that Leila Aboulela has agreed to become our newest patron. As many will know, Leila is a Sudanese writer living in Scotland. She was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her work has been recognized for its distinctive exploration of migration and Islamic spirituality. She has published five novels, an award- winning collection of short stories, and several of her plays have been broadcast on the BBC. She is Honorary President of the SSSUK (The Society for the Study of the Sudans) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

WEP’s Chair of Trustees, Simon Boyd, said: “We are delighted to welcome Leila Aboulela as our new patron. She has a unique perspective, bringing together an understanding of how it feels to be at home both in the Sudan and in the UK, and gives us a subtle, engaging and moving view of life in the Sudan, especially the experience of women. We look forward to her helping to bring the message about WEP’s work and programmes to a wider audience in UK, Sudan and elsewhere.”

Leila Aboulela said, “It’s an honour to be named as WEP’s newest patron. The work they do not only empowers women but also benefits their children, extended families, and communities.  Illiteracy is a disability and a prison; education is life enhancing and nurturing. I am excited to join this amazing charity and grateful for the opportunity to help women in Sudan.’’ 

For more information about Leila Aboulela and her work see:

In the interview below, Leila talks about the book she is currently writing, a historical novel set in Sudan.

“When I write I experience relief and satisfaction that what occupies my mind, what fascinates and disturbs me, is made legitimate by the shape and tension of a story. I want to show the psychology, the state of mind and the emotions of a person who has faith. I am interested in going deep, not just looking at ‘Muslim’ as a cultural or political identity but something close to the centre, something that transcends but doesn’t deny gender, nationality, class or race. I write fiction that reflects Islamic logic, fictional worlds where cause and effect are governed by Muslim rationale. However, my characters do not necessarily behave as ‘good’ Muslims; they are not ideals or role models. They are, as I see them to be; flawed characters trying to practice their faith or make sense of God’s will, in difficult circumstances.

Below, Leila’s latest novel; Bird Summons:

“The novel possesses all the pleasures we’ve come to expect from Aboulela, the author of Lyrics Alley and The Translator: psychological acuity, rich characterization, intricate emotional plotting. And prose that is clear, lovely and resonant as a ringing bell.” Keija Parssinen, Washington Post

Read Keija Parssinen’s interview with Leila here:

Below, just some of Leila Aboulela’s other works.

Commissioned by the British Council Khartoum, this film was part of what Leila describes as “a wonderful initiative back in 2008 to bring together writers from the North and South Sudan. Three writers are interviewed and in my interview, I visit my old school, a girls school – Sisters School Khartoum.”

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