"The growth of women’s power and the sustainability of development are inherently tied together. Women have great potential to create and implement solutions to their community problems; these solutions often turn into opportunities for the socio-economic benefit not only of themselves, but of their whole families."
Malika Kassi, HAF Program Director of Al Haouz Province
March 8th, International Women’s Day, is a moment to reflect on the important role women play in human development throughout the world. At the High Atlas Foundation, we are fortunate to have powerful female role models and community leaders participating in all of our programs. These mothers, students, teachers, thinkers and entrepreneurs are the backbone of the Moroccan economy. We are grateful to have met and worked with hundreds of women and girls from throughout Morocco, all of whom share a common goal: to create a better tomorrow for their country and their families. HAF is happy to introduce you to three female participants, Aicha, Houda, and Fatna...
My name is Aicha Amazzal. I grew up and studied in Marrakech, Morocco. I benefited from the Professional Center of Training for two years to develop my sewing and embroidery skills in 1994. I am married, and I speak three languages: Arabic, Tashelhit (Berber) and French. In 2011, I participated in a workshop conducted and supervised by the High Atlas Foundation on the participatory development approach. I learned how to conduct the participatory methods, listen and communicate with people. I have been involved in the creation of the PCD (Communal Development Plan), developed by the Toubkal commune and HAF.
I remember when I was a student, I was not able to express myself even though I had great ideas to share with my colleagues and teachers. However, with HAF’s training, I recognized that I can do it. Now I feel more relaxed to express myself freely. This experiential learning taught me how to share new ideas with people, and I leaned how to identify the people’s needs in a community setting.
Currently, I am involved in a project funded by NED (National Endowment for Democracy). This project aims to create agricultural federations, which will have access to larger markets in order to generate income for family farmers. The profits generated by the federation will be invested in community-identified projects. I have been working with youth, women and men as well as civil society organizations to help create this federation.
HAF has and will continue to support women through using simple and participatory methods to listen to people’s needs. HAF also builds nurseries and potable water for the villages, to improve livelihoods.
Women’s role today in Morocco is quite interesting; today, we can see so many women’s associations working to help women and kids. HAF can support more women in the future by helping women’s associations to be more active, training them to build their capacities, and creating a network of women’s associations. As women take these steps to improve their livelihoods, their families and communities to have greater access to income and higher quality of life.
Finally, I hope to see some changes over the next 5 years locally and nationally. Locally speaking, I hope to see that change occurs in the following areas:
·Improvements in the quality of our education system
· The construction of a secondary school because the lack of local school facilities and the need to travel to the next village reduces attendance, especially among girls
· Provision of a female doctor to the community with the equipment needed for her job
· Capacity-building for the women
Nationally speaking, my wish is to see an increase in access to health services for families, especially in rural areas. Also, I hope that Morocco will improve its national infrastructure in order to decrease car accidents.
Interview with Ms Houda Kassou, student at the Faculty of economics and law, Mohammedia
HAF: Welcome to High Atlas Foundation and happy women’s day. What can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Houda Kassou. I’m a student at the Faculty of Economics and Law of Mohammedia, I major in Arabic law. I’m 21 years old and I speak Arabic, French and a little bit of English.
You know High Atlas Foundation and you have been involved in one of its projects, can you tell us more about this experience?
I have been involved in the project of “Capacity building for students and association members in Mohammedia”. I think the High Atlas Foundation played a great role in reinforcing the capacities of students and association actors in Mohammedia
What does International Women’s Day represent for you?
International Women's Day means a lot to me, and I would like on this occasion to pay homage to all Moroccan women who proved they are very strong and patient; women who made a lot of sacrifices. Moroccan women are improving every day and are making greater contributions to their society.
Do you think that HAF contributed to the improvement of women’s situations through its projects?
Yes very much. HAF projects have greatly built women’s capacities and allowed them to express their opinion in a more free and confident way and to open up more to their societies
You certainly have wishes in the occasion of International Women's Day. How do you wish to see women’s situation in 5 years, and in 50 years?
I wish that all the women in the world will be in better and greater position and will be able to express their opinions in a freer way and without any restrictions, and I wish for Moroccan women particularly to have a more a leading role in their society.
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Interview with Ms Fatna Nekhali, an association member from the commune of Mohammedia
HAF: On the occasion of International Women's Day, we welcome you to the Foundation. Can you present yourself, your name and the association you represent?
My name is Fatna Nekhali, I’m the President of the Association Women of the Future for Social Development.
Do you have any children?
Yes I do have two daughters.
What are the projects that you have been involved in with the High Atlas Foundation?
I have been involved in the program of “Capacity building of students and association actors of Mohammedia.” This program was very beneficial, it helped me to reinforce my capacities in participatory diagnosis and project design. With the participation of actors from different associations, we came up with a number of project ideas for our region, and developed the skills to design our own projects
So do you think that HAF contributed to the reinforcement of women’s capacities in some fields? Do you think that this program had an impact on women?
Yes of course. I believe that training and capacity building are crucial, without those women can’t achieve what they want. All women who benefited from the program acquired a number of skills to move forward with their lives and societies. The training workshops that were provided to them during the program helped them to realize their projects.
What does the celebration of International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a happy day for every woman that remains eternally in their memory. It’s an occasion for them to share their personal and professional achievements, to express their talents and to motivate other women.
If the High Atlas Foundation wants to provide more support to women in Mohammedia and Morocco in general, what are in your opinion the means and actions that should be taken to reinforce women’s role?
I believe a lot in the importance and the power of training and capacity building, without these essential elements women can’t go far, and can’t realize important achievements, especially in associative work. If you want to support more women, I suggest that you provide more training, that way women will have greater contribution, participation and giving.
How do you see women’s role in 5 years, and what are your wishes for women?
Women are already accomplishing and achieving a lot, I hope that in the future, they will give more and that their contribution will be greater to the society. I hope they will be able to accomplish anything, and that nothing will constitute an obstacle to them.
We thank you very much for your participation and testimony.
I present my greetings to all women inside and outside Morocco in the occasion of International Women’s Day. Thank you.
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Interviews conducted by Malika Kassi, HAF Program Director of Al Haouz Province and Safae Lacheheb, Program Assistant, Mohammedia