Breaking Barriers: How Nawal Mostafa Is Providing Hope To Women Behind Bars

In life, there are a few individuals who epitomize what it means to be resilient in their search for justice and truth. One of these individuals is Nawal Mostafa whose work with female prisoners and their children not only inspires but instills hope for a better tomorrow.  She witnessed the scars and tears of thousands of female prisoners and ex-cons whose stories have become an innate part of her existence. The story of the founder of the “Children of Female Prisoners Association” is one that goes all the way back 30 years ago. Through a one-on-one, we got to uncover her inspiring journey.

How It All Started 

Looking back 30 years ago, Mostafa was a journalist who had a natural draw towards stories of people and humanity. That was how she was drawn to the stories of female prisoners at Al-Qanater prison. She visited the prison many times and was quite well-known among the guards and prisoners on site.

Then came a day, after she finished reporting on a visit, when she discovered that many of the prisoners’ children also lived in the prison, a truly shocking discovery. “That was the turning point in my career that transformed me from being a journalist to someone who became deeply involved in improving the lives of these children as well as their mothers” says Moustafa.

Speaking with Mostafa was truly eye opening as she gave us an untapped look into the life of the female prisoners and their children. With so many years of experience under her belt, she knew very well what was the root of the problem:

“it’s simply two main factors, poverty and society’s misconception of prisoners and ex-cons”.

When any of the women get released from the prison, they are automatically labelled as “ex-cons” or “ex-prisoners” by society. “This label acts as a literal handicap on the lives of the women, they can’t live a normal life, they can’t apply for a job or even request a grant or loan from the bank” says Mostafa.

A Deep Dive Into Mostafa’s Association 

That is where Mostafa came into the picture as through her association, she wanted to take practical and realistic action towards helping the women and their children. Through the association, Mostafa was able to launch many different kinds of projects, each one helping to improve the lives of both current prisoners, ex-cons and their children by tackling different facets of their life.

Hayah Gedida

One of her oldest and still ongoing projects is “Hayah Gedida” (A New Life). Knowing that many prisoners come from poverty, Mostafa wanted to give them the skills and craftsmanship needed to enter the job market so that they avoid the need to revert to crime.

So far, they opened up a sewing workshop inside Al-Qanater prison to help prisoners learn skills that can help them after their release. Once released, Hayah Gedida also opened up a clothing factory that provides job opportunities for the women. To this day, the project helped 220 women become financially independent.

Point Of Light 

Misconceptions are a big handicap for female poisoners and ex-cons and that is why Mostafa created an entire project dedicated to changing the narrative using the media, “Point of Light is all about placing a positive spotlight on the women and their stories” says Mostafa.

One of the many ways Mostafa raised awareness on former and current prisoners was by launching a magazine called “Oyoun Al-Mustaqbal“ as well as three documentaries that revolve around success stories of female prisoners. Along with that, they launched an interactive platform called “Al-Nas Net“ to help people learn more about former and current prisoners.


Just as with Hayah Gedida, Shielded is a project all about helping to train women to create handmade products. It is the one project that is full of brightness and color as a lot of the work that the women end up creating includes motifs representing life like birds and flowers. They create everything from pillows to handbags which are all sold online as well as at Shielded’s store located in Maadi.

Safha Beida (Clean Slate)

Wanting to do even more for the prison community, Mostafa knew that she had to target an even bigger facet of society, the lawmakers. Probably one of the most promising project is “Safha Beida”, which is all about clearing a former prisoner’s criminal record so that they can start fresh with a clean slate, hence the name.

Mostafa was able to do this for many women who ended up applying for a grant and loans and even started their own business.

Projects Catered To The kids 

Along with current and former prisoners, the association also helps better the lives of their kids. The association has several artistic paths and projects the kids can take part in including plays, musicals as well as arts and crafts. With these activities, the kids get to discover their talents and find a positive and healthy outlet for their emotions and mental well-being.

What You Can Do To Help

Learning about all that Mostafa accomplished for former and current poisoners proves that by taking initiative and believing in a cause, a lot of good can happen. “I am proud of the association and my accomplishments because after all that we have done, many people now know of our cause and want to help out as well” says Mostafa.

Today, the biggest way to help is to accept former and current prisoners as human beings who merely made a mistake. Mostafa couldn’t have said it better herself:

“Any of us can become a prisoner because of our life circumstances, and that is why every prisoner deserves a second chance in life”

Along with accepting prisoners and ex-cons, you can propel that positive mindset onto your friends and family so that it can truly spread. “Prisoners can begin a new life especially if two things are present, society’s willingness to help and prisoners themselves having the motivation to try again.”





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