7 NGOs That Fight for Women's Rights in the Arab World

The entire Middle East will benefit when women have equal access to education and equal protection under the law.


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In the past two years, there has been an "Arab Spring" for women in the Arab World. Saudi Arabia lifted the driving ban for women opening up more possibilities for employment and a new law requires courts to notify women if they have been divorced.

Lebanon and Jordan repealed their rape laws that allowed assailants to escape criminal prosecution if they married their victims and Jordan also amended an article in its penal code that allowed honor killers to avoid most prosecution for their crimes.

There are more than 800 million Muslim women and girls; an eight of the world's population. Of course, they are not all concentrated in the Arab world. Some of the largest Muslim populations are in Asia and India. While gender inequality is a global human rights issue, Muslim women still have some of the highest gender gaps in economic potential and gender inequality.

When women in the Arab world have the benefits of education, freedom from gender violence and equal protection under the law, the entire Middle East will benefit. Here are seven nonprofit organizations that are working to make this a reality.

1. The Center of Arab Women for Training and Research

CAWTAR was founded in 1993 in Tunisia as an independent regional institution promoting gender equality in the Arab world through research, training, networking, and advocacy. Arab women’s work skills are amongst the world’s most underutilized resource as women are often still excluded from paid work, and many do not utilize their skills in productive activities CAWTARs education will lead to the empowerment of women through education to share in the development of their communities.


This Lebanese nonprofit non-government organization has worked since 2005 to promote women's rights, child protection, foreign migrant domestic workers rights and gender equality. KAFA (enough) aims to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence and patriarchal discrimination against women. The NGO advocates for law reform and the introduction of new laws and policies that influence public opinion, practices and mentality.

3. The Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women

ADEW, founded in 1987 is an Egyptian independent nonprofit organization that was the first to work directly with working women. The organization works with thousands of residents in slum communities, engaging them in a comprehensive package of programs that include education, micro-credit, legal services, community mobilization, and health promotion activities. The classes teach women how to advocate for themselves with their husbands and the government and also teaches basic life skills like hygiene and cooking.

4. Arab Women Organization of Jordan

Founded in 1970, the AWO is working to reach gender equality and end discrimination and violence against women in the kingdom. AWO achieves this by empowering women and changing the traditional social roles and expectations of women in terms of education, politics, economics, culture and human rights.

5. The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children

Founded in 2007, this NGO is the first licensed nonprofit organization for women and children's protection in the UAE. The Dubai Foundation protects domestic abuse victims by providing them with safe homes and rehabilitative services. The organization also has community education programs to prevent violence in the UAE.

6. Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality & Equality

WISE promotes an overarching message of gender equality as a value intrinsic to the Islamic faith meaning that a denial of any of those rights constitutes a violation of Islamic principles. Founded in 2006 in New York City as a faith-based global network and social justice movement by 200 leading Muslim activists and leaders from 25 counties. WISE has worked against female genital mutilation in Egypt, ran a domestic violence awareness campaign in Pakistan with Bedari, and worked with NEDCO, an NGO in Afghanistan to train Imams on women's rights.

7. Association Democratique des Femmes du Marocaines

The Democratic Association of Women in Morocco (ADFM) is a feminist independent NGO that promotes women’s rights and strategic interests and promotes equality between men and women, gender justice, and environmental protection. ADFM provides a platform to exchange information between members and with the UNFCCC Secretariat and ensures that women are represented in meetings, workshops and conferences.