Tirana, Albania – June 1-5, 2024

In a significant collaboration with the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), the Women for Justice Foundation (WJF) actively participated in the 10th ICAN Forum held in Tirana, Albania, from June 1 to 5, 2024. The event, organized under the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) umbrella, brought together women peacebuilders, activists, policymakers, and practitioners from over 40 countries to discuss effective strategies for promoting peace, resilience, equality, and pluralism.

A Platform for Storytelling: Virtual Sessions, Face-to-Face Networking and Strategic Planning

Over the past six months, the WJF has organised a series of virtual storytelling sessions as part of the project ‘Reclaiming Our Voices: Egyptian Women in Arts, Research and Activism.’ This series brings together Egyptian women from two intersecting fields (environmental activism and arts and culture), both with an interest in community development, to share their personal experiences through narratives (stories), explore the tensions and constraints they face in their respective fields while continuing to work in restrictive environments, and dialogue about their respective roles in influencing social change.

The ICAN forum provided an important opportunity for a face-to-face meeting of the participating young storytellers and community leaders. This face-to-face exchange allowed participants to deepen their connections, network and plan the next phase of their initiatives together. A key focus of the meeting was to present and discuss the progress and implementation of the small grants awarded under the WJF funding programme. This reflection session was important to assess the impact of the participants’ work and develop strategies for future action.

WJF Participation in The ICAN Forum 2024: Workshops on the Power and Value of Storytelling

A highlight of the WJF’s participation in the ICAN Forum was its facilitation of two successful workshops. The first was on ‘The Power of Storytelling for Personal and Community Transformation’ and the second on ‘The Value of Storytelling as a means of recreation and Wellbeing.’ These workshops emphasised the importance of storytelling as a means of self-expression and as a tool for community action and development. Based on their experiences in Egypt, the WJF Reclaiming Our Voices project team shared techniques for creating and telling stories that can provide grounded bottom-up knowledge about women’s empowerment and community development and provide a viable alternative to narratives propagated by those on power. Guided by the pillars of Resistance, Empathy and Validation (REV), the interactive session empowered participants to develop their own stories, harness key emotions and use storytelling for grassroots resistance and the promotion of collective wellbeing.

Fostered Collaboration: Performance Creation/Storytelling Workshop

WJF also produced a Performance Creation/Storytelling workshop. This session integrated elements of performance art with storytelling, offering participants a creative avenue to express their experiences and advocate for social change.

The ICAN Forum 2024 was an important platform for the WJF to showcase its commitment to women’s rights, peacebuilding, and storytelling as a transformative tool. The face-to-face exchanges, workshops and dialogue series organised by the WJF not only strengthened its network, but also reaffirmed its commitment to empowering women and promoting peace through innovative and inclusive approaches. The forum emphasised the crucial role of women as peacemakers in the global discourse and the need to support their efforts to create sustainable and just communities.