Prof. Fatima Babiker Mahmoud

Personal Life

Fatima had known and admired Dr. Mohamed Suliman since 1970, but in July 1971 their relationship stopped suddenly when Mohamed was detained (added this as you say later that he was ‘detained again’ but with no previous mention it makes for an incorrect sentence) after a coup by progressive officers to over throw the dictator Numeiri was aborted.  They married upon her return from the UK in April 1979 and one month later Mohamed was again detained but later released. On January 5th 1981 they welcomed into the world their daughter Azza Mohammed Suliman, who immediately became the focus of their lives.


Whilst on sabbatical in 1989 at the Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA) in London, Mohamed was visited by Fatima and Azza.  Two occurrences of considerable impact took place that year; July saw the democratic government in Khartoum toppled by the Islamist coup delta and one month later, Fatima was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unable to return to Khartoum due to the country’s instability, Fatima and Mohamed accepted offers to join the IFAA and became head of Women’s Studies and he established a new department for Environmental Studies.

Early Life

Dr. Fatima Mahmoud was born August 14th 1946 in Sudan’s* capital city Khartoum.  At school she was active both outside and inside of the classroom, a keen basketball player outside and a lover of debate inside, especially regarding women’s issues.  Aware of the palpable and often painful discriminations against women from an early age, Fatima received constant support from both parents, in particular, her mother Alafia Musa.


Alafia had a sharp and critical mind in all issues of life and had no qualms in questioning the validity of the accepted religious decrees on Women’s Rights. Alafia’s love was a welcomed haven for Fatima who readily admits that she owes the militancy in her fight for Women’s Rights to her.  In contrast, her father Haj Babiker, a devoted Muslim who wrote the Qur’an beautifully by hand, despite his views and beliefs, always listened to the women in his life.  Haj taught Fatima to have tolerance for people from all religious beliefs and to respect opinions regardless of her own.  This, was the true meaning of democracy, and for Fatima, it provided a lively and intellectual atmosphere.


During her post at IFAA (Institute for African Alternatives), Fatima organised and developed a course about women.  She invited women activists from seven African countries and their vigorous debate was collected and edited into her book ‘African Women: Transformation and Development’.  Parallel to her women’s course, she organised a workshop on the vicious cycle of military and civilian rule in the Sudan.  The proceedings of that workshop were published in her book ‘Calamity in the Sudan: Civilian versus Military rule in the Sudan’. Both books were published by the IFAA in 1989.


Unsurprisingly, her contribution to women’s studies and the political economy generated an international response.  She began attending both meetings and conferences with heads of state and in 1993, was invited to join an American University lecture tour which included Yale and Berkley.  On this tour she visited the Carter Institute and met with it’s former President with whom she shared a lengthy discussion regarding development in the Sudan, something that deeply concerned him.


In 1994 Fatima left the IFAA to join the University of South Bank in London and one year later, the University of Bristol offered her the senior lecture post as Director of Development and Planning.  Fatima had always had a great interest in the issue of housing and chose to write her master regarding this issue within the Sudan, with special reference to the squatter areas of Port Sudan.  She also edited the pioneering work for the now late Professor, Saad El Deen Fawzt which was published into two volumes in 1994 and 1997.

Later Years

Due to Sudan’s political situation, during periods of his ill health and later death, Fatima was unable to visit her father or mourn his passing with her family in Khartoum. In 1997 she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and had to leave the University of Bristol to return to London.  Immediately upon her return she set to work on her contribution towards African Women’s Studies and her book ‘African Women: Between Tradition and Modernity’ was published (in arabic, do we need to specify this as English translations are not highlighted? Plus, website has a shopping page) to great acclaim in 2002.


Her book ‘Philosophical Schools in the Sudanese Women’s Movement’ was published (in Arabic) and released in 2004.  ‘The Sudanese Bourgeoisie Vanguard do Development?’ a translation inclusive of an up to date lengthy introduction of her first book (which book?), was also released that year.  Due for a 2008 release, her hand written manuscript for her following book ‘Sex and Sexuality and the Exploitation of Sudanese Women’ (also in Arabic), was lost.  However, being the women she is Fatima rewrote it and it was then published in 2012.


Despite suffering excruciating pain from fibromyalgia and arthritis, Dr.Fatima Mahmoud has led a very productive life teaching, researching, painting and publishing both in arabic and english.  She continuously manages to inspire and contribute, not only to Sudanese women, but to the entire women’s movement the world over.


She succeeded highly at secondary school and went on to be accepted by the University of Khartoum where she studied Economy and Political Science.  The experience she gained from her intense and political campaigning inspired her to write and design a weekly university newsletter addressing Sudan’s issues.  Those five years proved to be crucial, transforming Fatima into the activist and scholar she is today.


After finishing her Master’s Degree in 1974, Khartoum University offered her a staff post and she was sent to the United Kingdom to study her PHD at the University of Hull in the North East of England.  Here, she supervised many interested thesis’ and was very much liked by her students, who seemed to share the intensity that their lecturer emanated.  Fatima chose to research the political economy of the Sudan for her PHD.


This was an intense exploration of the wealth and lifestyle of the richest 100 Sudanese families and for it’s time, a pioneering look into the so-called African elite who dominated both economy and politics in the most Sub-Saharan African Countries.  Her extensive study laid bare how they ruled, how they controlled the economy, how they lived and how they managed their relationships with the regional and international captain. It received an implacable grade and in 1984, recognizing this, London’s reputable specialist publishing house Zbooks published it.  Just as her supervisors David Booth and Dr. Talal Assad had anticipated, the book reviews were excellent, especially so from Africans the world over.


President Pan African Women Movement 1994 – Present

Vice President of the Women Solidarity Group 1984-1986

Member of the Sudanese Communist Party 1964 – Present

Member of Central Committee, Sudanese Women Union 1970 – 2007

Founding Member of Sudanese Human Rights Organisation

Founding Member of University Staff Union Sudan

Committee Adviser for Journal Gender Studies

Committee Adviser for Sudanese Online

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BA Hons Degree and Masters Degree
University of Khartoum, Sudan
Areas of Academic Interest; Political Science and Political Economy, Women’s Studies and Housing
University of Hull, UK


Sex And Sexuality And The Exploitation Of Sudanese Women
Publisher: IFAA – UK (2012)

Philosophical Trends In Sudan Women Movements
Publisher: IFAA – UK (2006)

Sudanese Bourgeoisie: Vanguard of Development With Extended Introduction
Publisher: IFAA – UK (2004)

African Women: Between Heritage and Modernity
Publisher: IFAA – UK (2002)

African Women: Transformation and Development
Publisher: IFAA – UK (1991)

Calamity In The Sudan: Civilian Verses Military
Publisher: IFAA – UK (1988)

The Political Economy Of Housing In Sudan
Publisher: Institute Of Building and Research – Sudan (1987)

Sudanese Bourgeoisie: Vanguard of Development
Publisher: Z Books – UK (1984)

Housing In The Sudan (two volumes)
By Professor Saad El Dien Fawsy
Editor: Professor Dr. Fatima Babiker Mahmoud


Khartoum University, Sudan

Institute of Health and Hygiene at the Ministry of Heath, Khartoum, Sudan

South Bank University, London, U.K.

Institute for African Alternatives, London, U.K.

University of Bristol, U.K

Yale University, U.S.A.

Berkley University, U.S.A.


Khartoum University, Sudan

Institute of Health and Hygiene at the Ministry of Heath, Khartoum, Sudan

South Bank University, London, U.K.

Institute for African Alternatives, London, U.K.

University of Bristol, U.K

Yale University, U.S.A.

Berkley University, U.S.A.

Fatima’s Artwork


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