Arab Women Strengthen Leadership Skills for Increased Roles in Political Reforms
April 10, 2012 -
As governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa experience extraordinary democratic change, the opportunities for instituting reforms to improve government efficiency, reduce corruption and hold decision-makers more accountable to their citizens has never been greater. To support the efforts of emerging women leaders and their increased opportunities in political reform, the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) hosted its first 2012 core training program in Amman, Jordan on March 30 – April 1. The program focused on building the skills necessary for women to actively participate in the democratic change of their countries and provided the space for women from the region to share their experiences.
The core training program highlighted case studies from Eastern Europe and North Africa with guest speakers Liljana Popovska, a current member of parliament from Macedonia, and Hasnaa Chehabi, Vice President of the Moroccan Network for Youth and Consultation and technician at the Water and Environment Authority in Morocco.
Popovska shared her experience with participants on the formation of the women’s coalition the Macedonian Women’s Lobby which over the course of five years was able to successfully implement a 30% gender quota in the Macedonian Parliament. She noted that the Macedonian Women’s Lobby was successful because it was comprised of women from all sectors: both civil society and political parties, government officials, lawyers and of different ethnicities and religious affiliations. “Women crossed many gaps for this common goal. It was not easy, but we all realized we had to have one unified voice and demand change for the equal rights of all women in Macedonia.”
Hasnaa Chehabi discussed the significant changes in the political system in Morocco and the reforms occurring of the new democratic government, including the creation of a Committee of Reconciliation and Equality in which civil society can submit official pleas and complaints to the Government. She cited that this reform has marked a milestone for citizen’s rights and accountability.
As part of the program, AWLI hosted a reception for participants and members of the diplomatic, political, civic and business communities in Jordan and heard from guest speaker Samia Melki Fessi, from the department of languages at Ecole Superieure de Commerce at the University of Manouba in Tunisia. Fessi is also a member of the National Council and serves as a reporter for the Commission of Politics for her political party, Ettakol, in Tunisia. Samia spoke about the recent significant democratic changes in Tunisia and its effect on the surrounding Arab countries in the region. She called for the involvement of women in the reform process and in the formation of newly comprised democracies in North Africa.
AWLI Executive Director Barbara Broomell conducted workshops on Leadership Skills building and Strategic planning to assist participants with the formation of these goals. At the conclusion of the training, participants formulated strategic plans and outlined short and long term goals for the inclusion of women in reforms in their countries. Participant Houda Zaibi-Belhassen commented, “This is one of the most comprehensive trainings that I have participated in because AWLI successfully brought together women from different sectors and thus provided an enriching learning experience to build upon my leadership skills when I return home to Tunisia.”