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.
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.