I was fortunate to participate in the four-day Imagine empowerment workshop from the 5th to the 8th of August with HAF trainer Ibtisam and her colleague Rachida. The workshop targeted the women of Ghammat in their process of forming the Cooperative of Chaabat Ghamat for Bees. The workshop was aimed to identify the challenges rural women face, who did not have the chance to have formal or informal educational experiences.
The reception of these women of the members of the High Atlas Foundation was very pleasant. I saw in their eyes the pleasure of hope, knowing our purpose of training to work together.
The first day in the morning we focused on open questions to know each other and ‘break the ice’, such as: What are the difficulties you face in life? What are limiting beliefs that prevent you from what you aspire to achieve? How do you see yourself after these years? There were other questions that helped us all come closer.
The answers were different from one woman to another. Some of them see that a great association with her husband and children is still yet an obstacle to achieve more for themselves personally. Other women believe that material conditions and livelihoods do not allow them to fulfill their dreams.
In the evening there was an activity called – Internal Soil – comprising of five main axes:
These axes aim to change the concept of women of themselves and how to discover their strengths and weaknesses.
The second day of the workshop was very different when the trainer Rachida touched on several basic concepts of – the ‘exercise room’ – to know the extent of conviction and application of discipline, commitment, love, and the system of internal and external support.
Opening the floor for discussion, Ms. Fatima had tears rolling down her face. She expressed her sadness and regret that she had lost life; she did not have enough external support to accomplish her ambitions in life.
The evening period activity considered women’s achievements and the most courageous situations in their lives. The answers varied; some of them said that the establishment of a family and raising four or five children is not easy. Other women believe that its insistence on the establishment of a cooperative is the most courageous movement.
In the company of HAF interns from other countries, Catherine from Russia, Natalia from Poland and Paola from Spain, the workshop for the following day was entitled – Body Dialogue. The workshop included a set of practical steps to identify some areas to improve: self-blame; take responsibility for the actions of others (children, husband…); lack of self-esteem; and lack of pursuit and knowledge of self-interests.
Ms. Ibtissam and Ms. Rachida offered advice: reconciliation with self; avoid self-blame; accept oneself; dialogue with family members instead of conflict; have a special time in the day to take care of oneself; and learning new skills, such as crafts-making and understanding.
The workshop ended by talking about money and work in life and how rural women can attain in these employment and income. The workshop concluded by distributing the Foundation’s certificates of completion to the participants.
Four days of the workshop were a starting point for these women to change some of the restrictive ideas that prevent self-fulfillment, achieve their ambitions, and construct their own Cooperative Chaabat Ghmat for Honeybees.
Empowerment of a group in society, especially women, in the areas of family, money and business, is not easy. This determination is what I found in Ms. Ibtisam, Ms. Rachida and the participants that increased my determination to understand the empowerment of women by self- discovery of their abilities.