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Watering the Seeds, Not the Weeds

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Imagine Workshop in Izourane, June 21st – June 24th, 2018

 
By Katherine O’Neill
HAF Intern / Student at Claremont McKenna College

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Last week, from June 21st to June 24th, 2018, the High Atlas Foundation facilitated a four-day women’s empowerment workshop in a village outside Essouaira called Izourane.

The Imagine workshop was designed by the Empowerment Institute in New York for the purpose of fostering self-discovery and independence. HAF has been conducting Imagine workshops for rural and urban Moroccan women since 2012 as part of its Women’s Empowerment program. HAF’s workshops integrate Moroccan family code (Moudawana) with self-reflection and international human rights principles to give oppressed women a voice to discover their social and economic goals.

On the first day of the workshop, the women are asked to consider their visions for the future. Most often, the women have no response to this request; they have never had the opportunity to consider their own goals and desires. By discussing the following seven areas of life: Emotions, Relationships, Sexuality, Body, Money, Work, and Spirituality, the workshop aims to help the women develop their self-perception and broaden their horizons for future plans.

By “watering the seeds, not the weeds,” i.e. focusing on their potential rather than their obstacles, the women learn confidence and ambition. Many of the women at the workshop this weekend had never held a pen or pencil in their lives, yet through this workshop they became empowered. For example, one young girl was inspired to finish her education, saying, “I promise myself to look for a dormitory school to complete my study.” This empowerment typically leads to improvement in the lives of the women, whether this be through ‘soft’ impacts, such as increased self-confidence, or quantitatively measurable impacts such as the creation of cooperatives. 

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Fatima-Zahra Laaribi speaks to the women of Izourane

 

HAF has helped found 10 different women’s cooperatives across Morocco, each as a result of conducting Imagine workshops. Many of the women participating in this particular workshop are already cooperative members, but throughout the four days they gained increased confidence in their abilities. Unfortunately, the cooperative many of these women belong to has shrunk in the past several years, as women have succumbed to societal pressures to return to the home rather than work in the cooperative. After the workshop, many women expressed renewed motivation to continue the cooperative and become economically independent. For example, one participant said “I want to make sure that this cooperative is successful so that it can make a sustainable income in the future.”

Thank you FRÉ Skincare, for funding this empowerment workshop with Izourane.

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