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Women’s Empowerment: Growing Seeds of Self-Discovery in Morocco

تمكين المرأة: زراعة البذور ورحلة اكتشاف الذات في المغرب, Deyar Al Naqab.

Caption: The participants doing “twinkles” (in lieu of applause) in Achbaro for Lalla Nezha after presenting her affirmation. 

Women’s empowerment is a key to having a successful and bright future for Morocco. The IMAGINE Program’s main objective is to help women discover what they want most in life. So what is exactly the IMAGINE workshop? How do we empower girls and women in Morrocan rural areas?The IMAGINE program is a trip of self-discovery with women over the course of four full days. Each day has a specific format consisting of four modules divided into seven areas: emotions, relationships, sexuality, body, money, work, and discovery. 

Twenty Women’s Empowerment Workshops in Al Haouz, Morocco

During the final weeks of 2020, Amina El Hajjami,High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Director of Projects, conducted two IMAGINE women’s empowerment workshops, funded by the U.S Embassy in Morocco. This project, managed by Mina Alaoui Kamal and Moulay Hassan Aladlouni as Project Managers, aims to bolsterring women’s development in rural areas . 

The first workshop took place in the village of Sidi Ali O Fares in the Setti Fadma commune, where ten women participated. The second workshop was held in the village of Achbaro, in the Tameslouht commune of the Al Haouz province, with an additional ten women.

Imane Akhezzan and I accompanied Amina as apprentices for the two workshops. After one year of observation and training, we will be able to conduct our first women’s empowerment workshops in the future, helping HAF spread its work even further into Morocco.

Caption: The first day of the IMAGINE Women’s Empowerment workshop in Sidi Ali O Fares, Morocco.

The first day is spent getting acquainted with the empowerment program. The women begin the workshop breaking the ice with introductions and activities to feel comfortable with one another and with the HAF facilitators before diving into more intimate topics.

From there, the participants delve into a trip of self-discovery and personal growth. Culturally, it is not common to speak about emotions in Morocco, so the workshop starts by helping the participants build the vocab to speak about their feelings and have the confidence to do so aloud. Facilitators highlight many new concepts that are built upon through the subsequent days of the workshop: self-esteem, confidence, growing age, goals, and affirmations, among others.

Planting Seeds of Empowerment

Using imagery that parallels HAF’s goal to increase economic empowerment in Morocco through planting endemic fruit trees, participants of the women’s empowerment workshops begin to understand the importance of nurturing their inner selves. They come to understand the law of attraction: manifesting what you desire within yourself to achieve it in your life. It is the same principle that allows a seed planted in the ground to attract all the nutrients from the soil that it needs in order to grow.

Through the early stages of the workshop, the women discover their “internal soil.” If the soil is fertile, they can plant seeds that will grow healthy and strong, helping them to reach their goals and desires. One way to ensure a healthy internal soil is to identify the “limiting beliefs” (challenges, obstacles, and cultural/personal beliefs) that hold one back from nurturing a healthy soil. 

These first parts of the workshop teaches the participants how to transform the limiting beliefs and behavior patterns that are causing difficulties, watering seeds instead of weed, and instead direct these new creative energies toward achieving what they really want—from a healthier body to better relationships; from material success to a richer spiritual life. Facilitators do this by asking targeted questions:

  • How can they free themselves from any limitations?
  • How can they create dreams and achieve them?
  • What are the materials they need to reach their desired achievements?
  • How can they be brave and face the reality of making a life that they want most?

Another important concept of the workshop is identifying one’s weaknesses as well as one’s source of strength. Drawing upon sources of strength helps fertilize your inner soil. After attending these workshops, I’ve come to believe that many of us do not think to identify the source of the strength. However, they play an important role to help in advancing in life. 

We should ask ourselves this question: What allows me to feel powerful in my life? There are seven sources of power: commitment, discipline, support system, inner guidance, lightness, love, finding your own truth. The facilitators do an exercise with the participants in order to access their depth, discover these sources or strength, weakness points, and testing the internal soil. They gain the tools to continue working on them to change to them better.

During the following days, Amina built upon this foundation, focusing on each of the different modules: emotions, relationships, sexuality, body, money, work. 

Caption: The participants receiving their certificates at the end of IMAGINE Women’s Empowerment Workshop in Achbaro, Morocco.

Personal Reflections on the Women’s Empowerment Workshops

As the workshop comes to a close, the women state their affirmations, declaring the goals they’ve set for themselves and identifying what it will take to reach them using the four steps:

  • Where am I at in the process of achieving what I want?
  • Where do I want to get?
  • What are the limited beliefs that are holding me back?
  • Am I satisfied with the goal I’ve set for myself?

I am still stuck with my first workshop memories when I was a volunteer at HAF, thanks to Dr. Yossef Ben- Meir who guided me to attend it. I have always believed in the IMAGINE program. It has a magical power in changing women’s lives for the better in four days. Here are some testimonials from the workshops that I found to be quite profound: 

“I am Malika, a defense lawyer standing in court.“

“I will pray the fajr (morning prayer) on time.“

“I am the strong Fatima. I saved enough money to do the holy Pilgrimage.“

“I am in good health and without obsession. “

HAF’s Approach to Women’s Empowerment in Morocco

Through the IMAGINE program, HAF aims to develop citizens’ agency and voice, especially of women, through personal empowerment, fostering change-agents who build environments that promote democracy and guarantee freedom.

Thanks to support from USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program and the US Embassy in Morocco, in 2020 alone, 73 women and youth in the Guercif, Berkane, and Al Haouz provinces of Morocco took part in HAF’s women’s empowerment workshops. The IMAGINE program is not limited only to women. HAF staff have led these workshops with men and youth, as well. Since 2016, a total of 836 participants have benefited from this empowerment program: 627 adults and 209 youth.

When you donate to women’s empowerment initiatives in Morocco, you contribute towards developing community-led sustainable social, economic, and political stability for all in Morocco.

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