By Houria CHOUHAB
On the 4th of April, a team from HAF conducted a four days workshop in Talaint, in the Setti Fatma Commune. It was raining so heavily that we thought women would not attend the workshop, but they proved us wrong when half of the women were already there and the other half started to show up over the next hour. In the end, they were about 46 women attending the workshop.
As in any Moroccan region, we were welcomed by a nice breakfast which we shared with the women before Amina Hajami, Director of Projects at HAF, started the workshop. The purpose of this session in the first place was to get the women to understand the maximum of concepts that would widen their vision.
In the beginning, women were asked about the meaning of the term “self-empowerment”, but none of them heard of the word before. At that moment, the facilitator knew that she had to change the strategy and to simplify the notions according to their level of understanding. Amina started from the bottom up and brainstormed their notions about self-empowerment and training.
The purpose of this four-day workshop is to get these women out of their comfort zone first and then to empower them to rely on themselves, but most importantly, to help these women create the life they want, not the one the society wants them to live. Additionally, these women can learn how to progress and take steps forward, and this can only be achieved through work, hand-in-hand. We can compare this four-day experience to a trip, and one of the best tips is to enjoy a trip is a good company, and with these women, we can make the best outcome out of this training.
In the past, women didn’t have many rights as they have nowadays. For example, in this village, as in other villages in High Atlas, it was believed that a woman travels only twice in her life: the first trip is from her parent’s house to her husband’s, and the second one is from her husband’s house to the cemetery. We can feel the amount of unfairness towards women.
However, women still care less about what they want, and they give priority to what their men want. One of these women even mentioned a very dangerous belief that prevails in the area. She stated that marriage is about selling themselves to their husbands more than starting an institution where love, respect and understanding dominate. For that reason, it was important to remind these women that a wife is a blessing as long as she is able to educate the man and change his bad habits, as well as reminding them that they are equal to man and no one is superior to the other.
The facilitator deduced then that these women need to be empowered in seven areas in their lives:
- Marital Relationship
One of the effective keys to reach one’s goals is to project one’s self in the future implementing the desired image. The women were asked to project themselves in the future doing what they aspire to do. It was a simple exercise that brought them a big relief. One of the women’s dreams was to travel to Marrakech. She was asked to imagine that she has all that it takes to go there. Enjoy the trip!
Still giving the tips to empower one’s self, Amina mentioned the importance of Motivation and how it helps to reach the goals. Motivation can take different images according to our personalities; some see motivation in the family’s encouragement and love, other women find motivation in the honesty of the others. These motivational factors make us feel powerful and thus reach what we want. “I feel empowered and motivated when I see my children growing and doing what I could not do.” Seeing their children reaching their goals gives the women the courage to move forward.
At the end of this discussion, women did some relaxation exercises, in the middle of which they were asked to imagine themselves walking through a big palace with seven doors that represent the seven areas of empowerment. Each time they enter from a door, they meet someone, see landscapes or hear voices. At the end of the exercises, they were supposed to translate what they experienced into drawings.
In the next week, women were introduced to three new areas that necessitate empowerment; body, money, and love. A woman’s body is an important unit to empower and take care of. Thus, it was crucial to explain to these women how to protect and provide it with all the good conditions that guarantee to have a healthy body. Having a peaceful mind, taking good care of one’s mind, avoiding overthinking, sharing one’s sorrows with people you trust, finding suitable solutions to big problems were all suggestions given by the women in order to have a sound body. The same procedure was applied to the other two topics in which women participated and interacted for the purpose of having a clearer vision of what they want.
The good thing by which you measure the impact of these empowerment workshops is the engagement and interaction you begin to notice among the women, and which was almost absent on the first day. You can hear this difference in their voice’s tones when they intensely participate in the discussions and the exercises. These women last day’s impressions can be compared to the students’ facial expressions when assimilating a lesson after a hard effort done by the teacher.