The Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW) originally got its start when a group of development professionals launched a micro-finance project for garbage collectors in Zaballeen in the 1980s. During the projects implementation, the developers decided they should expand the project to help marginalized groups in Cairo. They identified low-income women of female-headed households as the vulnerable group they would target. This initial development work turned into ADEW in 1987 when the group of twenty men and women decided to register the Association with the Ministry of Social Affairs as a private, voluntary, non-governmental organization.
Today, ADEW still runs credit programs but now it also offers literacy programs, health services, and legal awareness seminars. Some of ADEW’s achievements include being the first Egyptian nongovernmental organization to identify female heads of households as a target group and the first to establish a micro credit program using a group lending methodology. They were also the first to address the problem of lack of official documentation and work on solving this problem.
ADEW’s mission is to create suitable conditions for Egyptian women on both personal and societal levels. They seek to change the culture of the community and women’s image in society, while also changing laws and policies. Their vision is then to give women, especially female heads of households, their legal, economic, social, political, and cultural rights in order to become full citizens and decision-makers within the family. Through equality with men they hope to give women the same opportunities in order for women to gain the ability to make their own choices.