Free Khaled Al-Qazzaz

Khaled's Fight for Women's Rights

Aaida Mamuji

Khaled has always been an advocate for women's rights. During his time as a civil servant, Khaled wanted to see positive transformations in Egypt in favour of gender equality.  One of the people he worked with was Marwa Farouq.  She shared an article with me that she wrote on her experience working with Khaled.  

I am waiting for the day that Khaled will once again inspire others with his vision for a brighter tomorrow.

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Social Justice for Women in Egypt

Social justice for women is an issue I have felt passionate about for many years. As a divorced single mother living in Egypt, I felt a connection to other Egyptian women – young and old – who, because of their circumstances had been deprived of their basic right to speak, contribute and blossom. My experience in Egypt had taught me that most of the social initiatives and community work dedicated to empowering women was limited. Existing initiatives did not aim to create a deep structural impact on how things are run in Egypt.

The day I walked into a meeting room in the presidency building, my  vision for Egyptian women changed. I had been invited to meet with Khaled Al-Qazzaz to discuss a new women’s empowerment initiative. I knew very little about the project except that it was being developed under the presidency led by Dr. Morsi and that the opinions of a diverse, but trusted circle of experts was sought.

When I entered the room, the all-white décor gave me a cold sensation. There was a huge oval table with about seven women seated in black chairs. A man stood in the middle of the group. This was Khaled.. After welcomes and introductions, Khaled started sharing his vision for women in Egypt. That day, I knew I found my calling. My dream for deep and meaningful social justice for women in Egypt was on the verge of coming true.

His introduction included a vision that went beyond just making things better for women through education or simple policy recommendations. He had a dream of creating an integrated model for developing social justice and empowerment for women in Egypt. He dreamt it to be value- driven – not driven by the standards and concepts imported to us. He longed for it to be real and grounding for all those involved.

It was not just a dream but rather a vision with specific end in mind; it consisted of domains for development that included both physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual domains as well as an understanding of the layers of responsibility and accountability that lies within the government, the society, institutions and the individual.  He not only focused on what women should learn, but rather the kind of consciousness we could aspire to have. What would enable us to create such consciousness and what sort of contributions did we dream of realizing for women in Egypt.

From that day forward, we have worked continuously with Khaled to make this dream a reality. As a leader Khaled did not rush us; he understood that in order to create a novel approach to social justice for women, one that created by us and for us, time was needed. Though we used existing models as leverage, we were always given the opportunity to critique these existing concepts and paradigms, to examine these frameworks and come up with ideas of our own. We were encouraged to look and examine matters in a holistic and integrated perspective.

Khaled’s open attitude and his appreciation of the strength of women was inspirational. He wanted to honour  her choices. He wanted to integrate non-tangible aspects of contribution into our development model. One of these non-tangible aspects was the concept of serenity.

The concept of enabling a sense of serenity within every woman was novel. If we could achieve this, then this would contribute to her empowerment. We saw that this form of justice really exists in providing Egyptian women with integrated resources; health, education, media, self-actualization, infrastructure are all needed to help women achieve serenity.

Working with Khaled Al-Qazzaz was a life changing experience. His commitment to social justice and the empowerment of women continues to inspire and motivate me in my own journey.

Marwa Farouq