This week, I conducted community meetings in Al Haouz provice with locally elected women who I identified with support of community leaders. The purpose of these meetings is to train women on how to be leaders in their community for a project sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy. In this regard, HAF is working through NED program to empower locally elected women and build their facilitation and management skills of participatory development processes through HAF’s learning by doing approach.
Locally Elected Women (LEW) face many challenges in their communities, since their positions are not widely accepted. The meetings are an opportunity for LEW to express concerns about their elected men, heads of the communes and the councils. Often it seems that the people in charge are not efficient or active leaders in their communities.
Some of the elected women also expressed that for them being an elected woman without an obvious role is just like being “a sheep”: they feel like followers more than like leaders. Moreover, they do not feel involved in the process of development of their communes in the sense that when the two assemblies are being held to discuss the financial budget and the administrative accounting, they feel excluded from the process. This is why it is so essential that I support them as HAF’s site manager in their roles to become active decision makers that have an impact on their community development.
The elected women show eagerness to change their status from passive into active leaders. One of the elected women told me that she wants to be a president of the commune because she wants to change the men’s mentality towards women’s status in her council and she wants to give more opportunity to the women to be agents of change. I was impressed with her determination and I want to support her in every way I can.
Our project began in October, and so far I have been teaching the LEWs the methods of participatory development and how they can implement those methods in their community meetings that they will be conducting and facilitating in the upcoming weeks.
This training is an opportunity for them to know more about the development perspective of their community and to learn management skills that will help them lead community meetings and help to engaged other stakeholders in the process of learning to learn and share knowledge and involve the communities as a whole and empower them to take responsibilities for change and put the skills learned into actions.