Women for Justice Foundation
In January 2021, Women for Justice Foundation (WJF) facilitated the launch of the She Builds Peace campaign in Egypt and elsewhere around the world by supporting Tanaghom Academy’s collaboration with artasfoundation. They established a ten-day, online Tanaghom School for Arts and Peacebuilding to train African and Asian peace activists and artists living in conflict areas. The program sought to build bridges between artists and peace activists to unify their efforts in peacebuilding and empower them to build peace in their communities through the arts.
As the first online school for arts and peacebuilding conducted on an international level through the Tanaghom platform, the program was designed to be an introductory interactive course to prepare participants for more intense offline practical trainings in the future. Participants came from over 15 countries across Africa and Asia and from diverse religious and political backgrounds. They discussed what constitutes a conflict context, specific examples of how the arts can be used to build peace, and the risks and challenges of arts-based approaches.
WJF plans to expand this online school in several ways. First, they are talking with one of the participants about a possible collaboration with his organization in Mombasa, Kenya. WJF also plans to organize future interactive sessions and webinars on topics related to arts and peacebuilding, including more specific courses on such topics as art and mediation or art and negotiation. In addition, WJF wants to include other WASL members through specialized trainings for them, and by inviting them to share their experiences integrating art into their work with youth involved in Tanaghom programs.
Through the She Builds Peace campaign, WJF hope to increase the recognition of women peacebuilders and make their efforts visible among the local community in Ontario-Canada and the Egyptian Diaspora community in North America, Europe, Qatar, and Turkey. The strategy for their campaign focuses on two tracks: Islamophobia in Canada and Egyptian Diaspora Activists in exile.
More Muslims have been killed in targeted hate attacks in Canada than in any other G7 country over the last five years. This rising Islamophobia has affected the mental health of Muslim Canadians, in particular Muslim women have faced racial discrimination for wearing the Hijab. As part of the campaign, WJF held a seminar titled Canadian Media Coverage of Terrorism and Extremism for Canadian journalism students in Sheridan College to raise awareness about islamophobia.
WJF also launched initiatives to strengthen and empower stakeholders outside Egypt to deal with the conflicts and challenges of transitional periods. Through establishing a platform for dialogue, combining face-to-face and online techniques, the campaign engaged diaspora activists from Qatar and Turkey to Europe and North America to build a network and enhance the impact of their activism.
Outcomes and Impacts:
- Canadian students at Sheridan College learned about women peacebuilders and the impact of islamophobia on Muslims, and expressed the desire to be involved in future projects.
- The engagement with members of the Egyptian diaspora stressed the support for diversity and offered technical support in organizational and management issues.
- To engage Egyptian diaspora activists in exile, WJF held three capacity building workshops: one on “Financial Management of NGOs” for Egyptian NGO personnel in diaspora; one on “Transnational Digital Repression: Techniques for Suppressing Human Rights defenders, Journalists and Activists,” in collaboration with Citizen Lab-University of Toronto and one on “Strategic Archiving: Archiving for Accountability,” in collaboration with Swiss peace.