By Ibtissam Niri
M&E Specialist / Empowerment Coach
As a women’s empowerment coach for the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), I regularly lead Imagine workshops for women in rural and urban areas, from a diverse range of age groups and educational backgrounds. However, one particular workshop held at the Ennakhil Association on June 20th left a lasting impression. Over the course of four days, the participants embarked on a profound journey of self-empowerment and were willing to intensely engage with their emotions and struggles.
During the workshop, I had the privilege of working with a group of 20 participants. These participants included a group of visiting students from the Univeristy of Virginia alongside Moroccan women seeking support for daily family abuse, rape, or sexual harassment. The first session focused on introducing the self-empowerment methodology, exploring key areas such as emotions, relationships, body, sexuality, …
Throughout the workshop, I witnessed a remarkable transformation taking place. One young woman in particular displayed great courage by sharing her story of loneliness and her journey into discovering inner strength. Another inspiring participant struggled to find her voice in public despite holding a political position. As the days progressed, the women grew more comfortable with self-expression and vulnerability, fearlessly sharing their struggles and learning tools to initiate positive change in their lives.
Through various exercises and discussions, they explored different aspects of self-empowerment, including understanding and managing their emotions, fostering healthy relationships, embracing their bodies, and developing a healthy mindset around money and work.
The workshop provided a platform for the women to reflect on their own experiences, challenges, and aspirations, empowering them to take ownership of their lives and make choices based on confident self-agency.
By creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment, we provided space for the participants to understand their ability to overcome obstacles and create positive change. Despite language barriers between the University of Virginia students and the participants, one unique communication through body language was unforgettable. All the participants took the initiative to dance together after the ‘body’ dialogue, which served as a powerful means of expression physically and emotionally.
These students (as well as Princeton University students who are also here in Marrakech with HAF summer learning-by-doing programs) had first gotten to know some of the women of Ennakhil since they cater the students’ daily meal programs.
Ultimately, while it is often intensely painful to open up and share our sorrows, it is far more harmful to confine them to our inner selves. In the context of a community workshop like Imagine, the women in the Ennakhil Association were freed to explore self-agency and self-expression, leading to a future that is marked by holistic well-being.