By Julian Stoiber/HAF Intern
Siahmed Hazel explaining to the women of Douar Lkdirat, how to establish a cooperative (Photo Cr.: Julian Stoiber)
On October 25th, Programs and Office Manager Sanae Benaadim, Field Technician Mustapha Itihya, and Volunteers Timo Reinitzer and Julian Stoiber joined Siahmed Hazil from the Office du Développement de la Coopération (ODCO) in Douar Lkdirat near Youssoufia in a workshop for 19 women on how to create a cooperative. This training was a follow-up workshop from the previously held “IMAGINE Workshop” and “Participatory Approach Workshop”.
“IMAGINE” is a self-discovery workshop. Throughout the personal growth process, HAF assists women in finding their voices and achieving their goals. Integrated with IMAGINE is the ‘Moudawana’ Family Code, adding a rights-based approach to the sessions, bringing together women to learn about legal protections and determine ways to advance social justice. Cooperative-building grows from empowerment gained during the “IMAGINE-Moudawana” experience and supports women’s cooperatives and their development to create greater financial independence, expand networks, and promote change in women’s roles in their communities.
Mr. Hazil started the training by brainstorming what a cooperative actually is to gather further information about the current knowledge of the women. The group knows of a women’s cooperative in a nearby village called Takharkhot, which is a big inspiration and motivates them to have one themselves. Furthermore, he explained how to create a cooperative step-by-step, guiding them through the legal process and how a cooperative would benefit them in many ways and would open new doors.
Following, the actual objective on what the community wants to work on got discussed. Dependent on local resources and unique skills they have, the group discussed different options. Producing traditional plates or carpets was certainly of interest, but in the end the women agreed on doing an agriculture cooperative because it involves the whole group, as not all of them have knowledge about knitting carpets or designing plates. Upon agreeing on agriculture (tree nursery), laws regarding this area have to be checked and taken into consideration for their potential cooperative.
To start the establishment of a cooperative, all the members have to come to terms with a name for their group, fill in a form with their personal details, and bring the document with all their IDs to ODCO in Safi. Then, their elected cooperative president needs to collect 100 MAD ($11) from every member to open a bank account. Fortunately, Hazil’s approach was to support them not solely by stating how to build a cooperative but also by showing kindness and sensitivity. He even gave the members his phone number in case they needed any help with the legal process, as only two of the 19 women can read and write. Additionally, Mr. Hazil would like to follow up with more training sessions with the women after the creation of their cooperative.
This community once again revealed a powerful and capable group of women who are making positive changes in their village and are on the perfect route to have their own cooperative soon.