After building an organic tree nursery and a well, and after facilitating participatory meetings and trainings concerning environmental protections with the farmers and the men’s association in Tassa Ouirgane village (Al Haouz province, Marrakech-Safi region), a project financed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and managed by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), a new approach was decidedly developed and implemented to maximize the impact of the project on the people of Tassa Ouirgane. This gender approach was encouraged and supported by National Coordinator Microfinance Program FEM – UNDP Morocco and the High Atlas Foundation.Fourteen women from the Tassa Ouirgane village attended a 4-day Imagine Empowerment workshop January 2019. The purpose of Imagine workshops is to enable women to create the life they most want. It is considered one of the foremost personal growth trainings available. The program focuses on seven areas of life: Emotions, Relationships, Body, Money, Work, Spirituality, and Sexuality. Below are the testimonials of a girl and a woman, both of whom attended the workshop:”My name is M. I’m divorced, and I have a daughter. I live with my father and my mother. I want to work to help my daughter, and I’m afraid to get out of the house because of society’s contempt toward me and their lack of trust. I thank God because my family has helped me a lot, but I wish I could be independent.”
After 4 days of the empowerment training, she confirmed “I will not pay attention to the opinion of others. I will be working toward my vision to be independent, build my own home, and live with my daughter.” This woman is now the leader of the Takhrkhourt agricultural Cooperative.
“My name is L. I dropped out of middle school during the last school break. I started training in artisanal craft, but I don’t feel comfortable with the decision that I made, and I don’t know how I can tell my father.” On the second day of the workshop, she told the other women participants: “I informed my father about how I felt, and he agrees with my decision to return to school.”
One of the results that came from the empowerment workshop and the participatory approach meetings that were conducted afterward with the same women was the vision to create an agricultural cooperative in order to capitalize upon the village’s great natural resources. To reach this vision, the women needed technical and managerial training. This is why the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) provided them with training on the creation and role of cooperative statutes, democratic voting for decision-making in the cooperative, organizational management, environmental protection, how to plant seeds and cuttings of trees, and how to irrigate trees.
Throughout each training and workshop that the women received in 2019-2020, HAF supported them to create Cooperative Takhrkhourt, an agricultural cooperative whose membership includes one woman and four girls. Two of the girls are studying in high school, and they want to continue their studies at university. In 2020 alone, Cooperative Takhrkhourt planted 40,000 olive and walnut trees in a nursery that they manage. The nursery is supported by the Ecosia-HAF partnership.
To achieve these results means that the women of Takhrkhourt Cooperative have:
- Made decisions about their own lives, as demonstrated by starting the cooperative that they themselves chose and created;
- Learned how to manage their time between studies, work at the nursery, and work at home;
- Made initial visits to the bank, local authorities, ODCO (Office du Développement de Coopération), and met other people outside of the village to promote their initiative;
- Opened a bank account, possibly for the first time in their lives, in order to receive income and manage cooperative finances;
- Started to receive income;
- Begun to experience and enjoy independence and autonomy;
- Voted for administrative members; and
- Created space for communication between them and other visitors to learn about the project.
The women’s cooperative now wants to expand the project. They are thinking about beekeeping and growing medicinal plants in the future.
This project has become a great example to other women and the girls in rural areas that women can change their situations for the better in the ways they want–if only they have the determination and the support to make it happen.
Want to help more rural women in Morocco to shape their own futures and realize their goals? Give to our ongoing project to support Women’s Empowerment and Participatory Involvement today.