who we are?

About us

We are a Canadian non-profit organization, aiming at developing and implementing activities that enhance women’s participation, boost community development and promote rights, social justice, peace and dialogue through advocacy, networking and researching.


diaspora’s voices in dealing with cultural and socio-political challenges. Moreover,


diaspora groups and civil society networks through training and sharing experiences of advocacy and research.

Our mission

The Pursuit of Empower Diaspora Communities to integrate within Canadian society and boost their contributions to support the development and democracy of their country region through the transitional period.

Our vision

Identifying strategies to encourage women’s presence and engagement with public discourses to get their voices heard, both nationally and internationally through addressing issues concerning human rights and freedom.

About us

Our Story

Women for Justice Foundation (WJF) is an Egyptian-Canadian non-profit organization established and registered in Toronto, Canada in 2019. Building on decades of collective experience of its founders, WJF is dedicated to the pursuit of gender justice, democratic transition, and peace by elevating women’s participation and leadership in public life. WJF’s track record  goes way back to its predecessor, Mada Foundation for Media Development, which worked in the fields of conflict transformation and democratic transition from a gendered perspective in post-2011 Egypt.

Mada Foundation worked in Egypt between 2011-2017 to enhance the prospects of the incipient democracy movement at the time. Most of the work of Mada Foundation was done through its three subsidiaries: the Regional Center for Mediation and Dialogue (RCMD), Noon Center for Women and Family Issues (Noon Center), and Tawasol Center for Training and Consultancy, that brought together specialists in conflict transformation, media and women’s empowerment.

The work of Mada Foundation was abruptly interrupted in October 2015 by an armed raid by Egyptian security forces in what was described by Amnesty International as a “dangerous escalation in the Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression and association”. This unlawful assault resulted in the closure of the foundation’s premises and the interruption of its ongoing projects. However, the team resumed activity shortly thereafter with a much lower profile. This was possible until 2017 when we decided to stop all activities for the safety of team members and other stakeholders.

With the further confiscation of the public sphere in Egypt and the impossibility of continuing our work on democratic transition and conflict transformation within the country due to increasing security risks, most staff members departed the country, either seeking asylum or otherwise emigrating to new destinations.

Kawther Alkholy, the last director of Noon Centre and the head of programmes and projects at RCMD, together with other staff members inside and outside Egypt established Women for Justice Foundation to pick up the work of the now-closed Mada Foundation and offer a new home for its most important projects until it is possible again to resume work inside Egypt.We cherish our past activism under the umbrella of Mada Foundation and are determined to not only resume its work on democratic transition and conflict transformation in Egypt but to scale it up to the regional level and empower MENA diasporas to take part in their countries’ struggles for democracy.

Projects of Mada Foundation that have found a new home in Women for Justice include: (1) Tanaghom Academy, a regional offline and online school for conflict transformation and peacebuilding; (2) Democratic Transition Platform, a dialogue platform for activists in Egyptian political parties and movements; and (3) Shaq’eq (which means sisters in Arabic) Initiative, a collaboration and exchange on religious feminisms across the MENA region.

With a team based in Cairo, Toronto, and elsewhere, we intend to expand our work on empowering Arab diasporas to assume active roles in their home countries’ socio-economic and political developments, and we plan to do so from a gendered perspective that elevates women’s engagement and leadership in the public sphere.

About us

Team & Board Members

Melinda Holmes


Melinda Holmes is advisor and coordinator of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL), spearheaded by the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) for Women’s Rights, Peace and Security. 

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The alliance brings together existing women rights and peace practitioners, organizations, and networks actively engaged in preventing extremism and promoting peace, rights and pluralism, to enable their systematic and strategic collaboration.

From 2013 to 2016, Melinda worked with The Carter Center, where she advised on the engagement of religious and traditional beliefs, actors and communities in advancing peace and human rights, with a focus on women and girls. In 2012-2013, she conducted original anthropological research in Ghana examining the role of structural factors in Muslim leaders’ approaches to peace and violence and exploring the evolution of religious leadership norms.

In 2010 and 2011, Melinda lived in Egypt where she served as a refugee legal case worker amid the exacerbated human security crisis brought on by the 2011 uprising. Previously, Melinda worked as an educator at the Ecole d’Humanité in Switzerland where she developed and taught curricula on themes including nonviolence, conflict, globalization and civic activism, and served as a youth mentor.

Melinda graduated with a Master’s in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, focusing on the gendered and religious dynamics of conflict and peacebuilding. 

Ossama Soffar


Ossama Soffar is a journalist, novelist, researcher, content creator and film critic with 20 years of experience. Soffar specializes in theatre, arts, culture and entertainment news and features. He believes in the power of information and engagement.

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His career spans across the dynamic realms of both digital and print media. With a deep-seated passion for culture and the arts, Ossama has carved a niche for himself, especially in the world of cinema.

Ossama’s journey in journalism is marked by a rich tapestry of experiences. He is a master multitasker who has honed his skills over years of dedicated practice. His work is not just about reporting; it’s about weaving stories that resonate with a diverse audience. Ossama’s reviews and critical studies of films are not just texts, they are narratives that bring movies to life.

Noheir Elgendy

Board Member

Noheir Elgendy is an urbanist and researcher based in Toronto with practical and teaching experience in architecture and urban design across the Middle East, Europe, and North America. She is Adjunct Professor at University of Toronto. 

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Her expertise lies in sustainable design, urban regeneration, and participatory planning. She is a dedicated advocate for Urban Justice, focusing on the rights and experiences of minorities, racialized individuals, and marginalized community members.

Aside from her academic pursuits, Noheir plays an active role in creating a tangible impact in her community. She serves as the executive director of QED, a nonprofit organization, and is a board member of the Women for Justice Foundation. Additionally, she is affiliated with the Center for Refugee Studies at York University. Her hands-on engagement with refugees and newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) allows her to gain valuable insights into the specific challenges faced by these vulnerable groups.

In 2023, Noheir received the Leading Social Justice Fellowship from the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. This fellowship provided her with an opportunity to collaboratively develop a project titled “Fearless Cities: Fighting Gendered-Islamophobia and Racism in Toronto Public Spaces.” Her dedication has also earned her several other awards and fellowships. Moreover, her individual and collaborative efforts have been showcased in various international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 2016, Bergamo in 2010, and Lausanne Jardins in 2009.

Noheir’s true passion lies in using research-backed strategies and hands-on support to bring about positive change in marginalized communities and she strongly advocates for sustainable and inclusive urban development.

Kawther Alkholy

Executive Director

Kawther is a storyteller, researcher, and journalist. As a devoted academic, she is pursuing her PhD in Women and Gender Studies and a teaching assistant at the Feminist Institute for Social Transformation (FIST) at Carleton University-Ottawa.

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Her diverse experience extends back to her role as Production Manager at Al-Qazzaz Foundation for Education and Development (QED) based in Toronto, and further to her instrumental role as co-founder of the Noon Center for Women and Family Issues in Cairo (2012-2015). Her dedication to elevating Arab women’s narratives led to her being honored with the Best Media Production on Arab Women award in 2015 by the Arab Women Organization.

Kawther’s commitment to dialogue and understanding is also reflected in her tenure as a program manager at the Regional Center for Mediation and Dialogue between 2015-2017. Notably, she played a pivotal role in launching the Alexandria Declaration for Women’s Rights in Islam, also recognized as the Al-Azhar document for women’s rights. Furthermore, she collaborated with esteemed organizations like UNICEF-Egypt and the National Council for Population to design the “Information and Communication Strategy for the Egyptian Family.”