By Yossef Ben-Meir
I am approaching my 30th year of being involved in Morocco’s sustainable development journey. As in all paths of life, there are surprises that arise in the roles we play and remarkable experiences that can come any day.
Receiving the Fes-Gate Trophy with 14 wonderful others this past week was one of these experiences and a recognition of the women’s and girls’ empowerment work the High Atlas Foundation has been dedicated to since its beginning in 2000, but even more vitally over the past years as facilitators of the Imagine empowerment methodology.
Organizations such as HAF are born from the concept that people’s participation in their own development is the primary determinant of sustainability. However, with time and experience, we have learned there is more.
How can we truly participate when within ourselves we are not free, are too much in doubt of our ability, uncertain as to the future we most want or how to achieve it, and faced with oftentimes extraordinary external social controls limiting our movements and access to opportunities and justice?
Participation is absolutely vital but most especially when we are confident, when our vision for ourselves and our communities has been built, when we have identified and are addressing the constraints within and outside of us, and when we can imagine and move toward a new reality of our own prosperity, fully intertwined with our communities, our country, and even our world.
We have also come to understand that an ingredient of empowerment is identity discovery, of learning about our historic selves in relation to each other as they emerge through time to the contemporary in our localities, countries, and regions.
Our equation for sustainability has grown to become “Empowerment plus Participation equals Sustainability”—the sustainability of our lives and new possibilities of what we can create within them.
If the Fes-Gate Trophy allowed for the opportunity of this expressed thought now, then it is so welcomed. If Fes-Gate is momentum toward the greater manifestation of what is herein described, then please let us hope Fes-Gate is for everyone, every day.
On behalf of the people of the High Atlas Foundation who work alongside others all around this country towards this purpose, thank you to Fes-Gate. Thanks to its organizers, its committees and members, to everyone who makes this initiative possible, and thank you for recognizing what we have found to be at the very center of our Moroccan calling: empowering women, leading engaged and enduring communities.