who we are?
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.
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.
Team & Board Members
Melinda Holmes is a peacebuilding specialist, writer and strategist focusing on gender and political violence. At the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) she directs the Women’s …
which brings together more than 60 independent women-led civil society organizations in 30 plus countries working to prevent violent extremism and militarism. A 2016-2017 Visiting Fellow at LSE’s Centre for Women, Peace & Security, Holmes also previously 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. Holmes 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. which brings together more than 60 independent women-led civil society organizations in 30 plus countries working to prevent violent extremism and militarism. A 2016-2017 Visiting Fellow at LSE’s Centre for Women, Peace & Security, Holmes also previously 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. Holmes 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 is an Egyptian 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 has a proven track record working for a number of international online and print publications and news agencies, and creating reports and documentaries. His articles and documentaries have appeared in Al Jazeera Media Network, Anadolu News Agency, The New Arab, and Akhbar Elyoum newspaper.
Dalia Yousef is an Egyptian researcher who lives in New York City since September 2014. Currently, she is studying at the International Migration Studies Program, the Graduate Center,
CUNY – City University of New York. Yousef holds a master’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo (AUC); her thesis tackles how religious minorities utilize the internet to address their hybrid identities. She assisted and engaged in many research projects including Mapping Digital Media: Egypt – Open Society Foundations, Public Service Broadcasting: Egypt Country Report, Panos Paris Institute (IPP) and Mediterranean Observatory of Communication (OMEC) Consortium and The Project on Immigration and Higher Education (PIHE), CUNY. She worked with MADA Foundation for Media Development, in 2014, to conduct a two-part (unpublished) research exploring perceptions, representations, and modes of solidarity among Egyptian women after the Egyptian revolution. For several years, Yousef worked at islamOnline.net (a bilingual website operated between 1999 – 2010). She held various positions in the website’s social and cultural sections and founded its special page focused on European Muslims in 2006. Yousef is the author of taglyat el adyan ala al internet (or Manifestations of Religions Online) issued by the Digital Literacy Series, the Egyptian Cultural Palaces Authority in 2012. She contributed to multiple research and journalistic platforms addressing the issues of cyberactivism, women issues, democratic transition, and media diversity.
Kawther is the Executive Director for Women for Justice Foundation (WJF). She previously worked as Production Manager at Al-Qazzaz Foundation for Education and Development (QED) in Toronto, Canada. Alkholy was co-founder of Noon Center for Women and Family Issues, which was based in Cairo (2012-2015).
She was awarded the Award for Best Media Production on Arab Women in 2015 from the Arab Women Organization. Alkholy also worked as a program manager at the Regional Center for Mediation and Dialogue (2015-2017). She has experience in journalism and online campaigning through her work in IslamOnline.net as a Managing Editor for the society section. Alkholy participated in the launch of the Alexandria Declaration for Women’s Rights in Islam (known as Al-Azhar document for women’s rights) and in designing the “Information and Communication Strategy for Egyptian Family” in cooperation with the Mada foundation.
Dr. Mona Younes
Dr. Mona Younes is specialized in the field of ‘Education in Emergencies’ as well as ‘Online Education’. She has finished her Master’s Degree in Online Education from the University of Southern Queensland, before moving to Lancaster University to acquire a PhD in ‘Education and Social Justice’. Mona’s focus, research and expertise crystalizes around the …
educational needs and challenges of
refugees, specially refugees in developing countries and the potentials of blended and online learning, to improve their lives. Mona worked with a long list of international organizations, e.g. UNICEF, UNHCR, War
Child Holland, Plan International, in projects and research assignments related to the education of refugees in displacement settings, but investigating the challenges and potentials of EdTech to empower marginalized populations and/or improve the efficiency of the educational systems.
Mona worked for over 15 years in the educational sector in different Arab countries. She started as a teacher, then teacher trainer, then head of department, and Senior e-Learning Specialist. During her long career, she founded online learning and training departments, managed large-scale educational projects, and worked with schools, ministries, academia and the private sector.
Her expertise ranges from teacher training, curriculum design, setting professional development strategies and plans, supervising and mentoring school leaders and administrators, designing online courses, educational repositories and online educational curriculum, conducting educational
research and developing evaluation and monitoring reports.
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/monayounes1/ Website: monayounes.com