Who we are
Women for Justice is Afghanistan's first
non-profit public interest law firm, based in Kabul.
Women for Justice Organization (WJO) was established in October 2018, to bring justice to survivors of systemic and widespread human rights violations and war, and, hold institutions accountable.
We are female-founded and female-led. We welcome men to work with us. We are independent, non-governmental, non-political and non-sectarian.
Founded by two award-winning women human rights lawyers, WJO is mandated to represent women, girls and other marginalized survivors (including marginalized men and boys) in 'public interest cases'.
We take these cases before domestic and international courts, dispute-resolution committees, and, the UN Special Procedures. Our cases are selected and primed to secure broader social, policy and legal changes to fulfill people's rights and strengthen institutional accountability.
Our lawyers specialize in civil and human rights litigation and the prosecution of crimes against women and marginalized groups under Afghan and international laws. As a specialist law organisation, we train and nurture the next generation of Afghan public interest lawyers.
Mission & Vision
Our vision is a peaceful Afghanistan governed by the rule of law and where people can live a life of dignity.
Our Mission is to defend the human rights of women and other marginalised communities, and, advocate for institutional accountability.
Human rights violations in Afghanistan are systemic. By “systemic” we mean that institutions are involved in violations – directly or indirectly, for e.g. bacha bazi, sexual harassment on campus and virginity examinations.
After witnessing the pronounced and urgent need for justice and accountability in cases of sexual violence, WJO was founded with a specific mandate to combat impunity in cases of sexual harassment, assault and rape in the public sector that occurs under the consent, acquiescence or silence of public institutions.
Although sexual violence is a criminal offence in Afghanistan, whistle-blowers and victims who report are defamed, bullied, intimidated and threatened to silence by their offenders.
Most cases are not diligently investigate and prosecute cases with survivor-centered and trauma-sensitive approach.
Offenders hide behind the protective veil of power.
These intersecting factors foster a culture of impunity which is the impetus behind the founding of WJO.
How are we different
Beyond seeking justice for specific survivors, we leverage our cases to achieve broader public interest outcomes. And we involve our clients in our advocacy.
By doing so, we extend the benefits of the case to the broader public, impacting on the fundamental rights of a larger definable group of people – thereby achieving economies of scale for justice and accountability.
Law and Policy Reform: We push reforms to laws and policies to address the barriers to justice such as obstruction to justice, the need for corroborated evidence, the practice of virginity testing amongst other things. We also push for reforms that is rooted in rights-based, gender-competent and survivor-centered practices.
Capacity Building: We train young lawyers to become effective and persuasive human rights defenders by giving them the tools they need to represent cases of sexual violence and hold institutions to account.
We also train members of institutions to enforce policies and practices which are survivor centered. In our workshops, we cover issues such as the concept of sexual violence, how it manifests, its causes and consequences; how to deal and cope with such cases; the role of institutions and individual lawyers and prosecutors in promoting accountability and ending impunity; and legal skills such as interviewing survivors with trauma, dealing with affected survivors and building trust; collecting evidence, and, drafting and delivering persuasive survivor-centered and feminist submissions. We do this through on-the-job training during our cases and interactive workshops.
What we do
To stop systemic human violations, we represent victims of human rights violations. We fight impunity. We hold institutions accountable.
We do this through strategic legal action and client-led advocacy in judicial and non-judicial settings. We also file communications to UN Special Procedures to initiate bilateral engagement with the government.
In addition to our public interest action, we provide legal advice and aid. And we train and nurture the next generation of public interest lawyers.
We believe that in order to eliminate violence and discrimination against women, we must go beyond providing legal aid, and, take on cases to affect broader legal or social changes. This means we pursue cases that have the potential to effect broader social and legal changes, set good precedent and improve people’s access to and experience of justice.
We use multiple advocacy tools and only resort to the court when we have reached a critical failure in accountability or in cases of felony offences.
We leverage our cases and lessons learned to pressure, and at the same time, assist institutions such as the prosecution unit, Ministries and public organisations to strengthen their prevention and response systems and promote collective accountability. We offer them our wholehearted support to uphold the rule of law. This is our idea of peaceful resistance.
It always seems impossible until it's done.
― Nelson Mandela
Our partners are first and foremost our clients and their communities. We work intimately with them, empowering them to take action on issues that matter to them through collective action.
We have Memorandum of Understanding with the Attorney General's Office Anti-Sexual Harassment Directorate and Ministry of Higher Education.
We work with civil society and amplify their movements through legal advocacy.
We have developed networks with the Presidential Palace, First Lady's Office, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Interior, Supreme Court and various gender and technical working groups.
We are a proud and active member of the Human Rights Defenders Committee Board, Ministry of Justice/Women’s Affairs Legislative Drafting Committees, Prohibition of Forced Gynaecological Examinations Committee and Anti-Sexual Harassment Law Committee.