Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance.
Azza Soliman is a renowned Egyptian lawyer, women’s rights activist, WHRD, and 2nd place recipient of Allard prize for International Integrity. Soliman co-founded the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) in 1995 in Bolaq el Dakror, a slum of Cairo. Soliman currently serves as the Chair of its Board of Trustees. CEWLA works on combating violence against women in the private sphere, access to justice, Personal Status Law for Muslims and Christians (PSL), and combating corruption through engaging women in the decision making process in different fields, among other issues.
Soliman studied international law and human rights with a focus on paralegals, the rule of law, and protection of witnesses and whistleblowers at Columbia University. Soliman was also an Ashoka fellow for 3 years, studying the progressive interpretation of Islamic sharia law and how to include it in amending PSL. Soliman is one of the founders of Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family that is based on progressive interpretations of Sharia law, human rights and international conventions, and constitutions. She was a member of the Musawah International Advisory Group (IAG) from 2009 to 2015. She also worked as a Consultant to Arab governments and feminist non-governmental organizations in Qatar, Jordan and Bahrain, UAE, Iraq, and Yemen where she assisted in the drafting of reports submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
As a lawyer and WHRD, Soliman continues to work on the most sensitive issue for the Egyptian state - violence against women in the private sphere such as domestic violence, marital rape, incest, and female genital mutilation (FGM). She also worked on amending the child law to include adoption of DNA as evidence to paternity to be recognized by the court and on nationality law so women can have the right to pass their nationalities to their children. It is with these desperate conditions in mind that Soliman continues to call for accountability for crimes against women, continues to fight for women’s access to justice, and is working to push Egyptian lawmakers to adopt laws that protect the rights of witnesses. In 2009-2010, Soliman spearheaded a campaign that highlights nationwide corruption and its effect on women from a feminist perspective. Over her decades of work, Soliman has tackled with great strength and courage many issues considered taboo by both the state and society.
Last modified: 01/09/2019