Women’s cooperatives are integral to Morocco’s development. In rural areas, where certain gender disparities remain intact, these cooperatives further encourage the transformation of already shifting gender norms. Training women in embroidery and sewing skills provides women with autonomous sources of income and bolsters the impact of their voices in their communities. The revenues earned from the cooperative activities, in turn, support the continued existence of the cooperatives and diversify families’ income bases. These cooperatives, identified as priorities by the communities themselves, display the inclusive Moroccan Spirit: men and women create a stronger Morocco as they partner to advance the socioeconomic development of their communities.
Recently HAF conducted extensive community participatory meetings throughout the province of Al Haouz. This province is located in the Tensift-Al Haouz region that traverses both Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains as well as its valleys, creating a complex and difficult landscape. Out of the twenty-nine villages in which HAF supervised participatory meetings, seven of these recognized women’s cooperatives as a priority. The significance of this number increases when taken into account that a handful of these villages already have women’s cooperatives in place. As the next step forward we hope to assist these communities in establishing women’s cooperatives and contributing to their development.
Thanks to your continued support HAF has been able to expand the scope of its women’s cooperative building in rural Morocco and make a noticeable difference in the lives of not only the women themselves, but also their children and families.
Last month on March 7th, HAF celebrated International Women's Day with women across Morocco and the world. Malika Kassi, Director of Programs in Al Haouz Province and manager of the women's cooperative project described the connection between women's empowerment and human development in general:
"The growth of women's power and the sustainability of development are inherently tied together. Women have great potential to create and implement solutions to their community problems; these solutions often turn into oppurtunities for the socio-economic benefit not only of themselves, but of their whole families."
International Women's Day was a moment to reflect on the important role women play in human development throughout the world. At the High Atlas Foundation, we are fortunate to have powerful female role models and community leaders participating in our programs. These mothers, students, teachers, thinkers and entrepreneurs are the backbone of the Moroccan economy. We are grateful to have met and worked with hundreds of women and girls from throughout Morocco, all of whom share a common goal: to create a better tomorrow for their country and their families. Please read more on HAF's International Women's Day blog to hear from the beneficiaries themselves.
Thanks to your generous support, HAF can continue to expand its women's empowerment efforts throughout Morocco and the region. Your donations allow women and girls to participate in independent income-generating activities, and set the stage for improved gender equality and dynamics in rural Morocco.
To all our generous Global Giving donors, we wish you the best for this new year. 2014 promises to be an exciting time for HAF with new projects in agriculture, youth projects, and women's empowerment. After the success of the Tassa Ouirgane Women's Cooperative in 2013, HAF is excited to replicate this project in other provinces.
After 10 months of participatory planning meetings, community members in Boujdour Province have identified a women's cooperative as a priority human development project. Pending funding, HAF will work with local field trainers and community leaders in Boujdour to get this new co-op off the ground in 2014.
Women's Co-ops provide women with the skills to enter the socioeconomic sphere and increase household incomes. HAF's women's projects build self-esteem and promote the importance of gender equality in the workforce. By expanding this initiative to new provinces, HAF can provide thousands more with these opportunities.
HAF is so thankful for the support we received in 2013 from local communities, partners, and individuals like you. We are confident that 2014 will bring great success and further development for HAF's Women's Co-Ops throughout Morocco.
The women’s Coop of Tassa Ouirgane village in the High Atlas Mountains is proving to be a source of inspiration for the surrounding communities and our HAF team.
We are so pleased to report that thanks to your generous donations, the Coop’s sewing and embroidery training is in full swing! The trainer teaches the women and girls of the Coop sewing, crocheting and embroidery in small groups throughout the day, and has already transferred technical skills in both handicrafts and machine sewing. While we are so impressed with the progress the Coop in the past few months, there is still much more to do in the field of education.
The Challenge Ahead:
Global Giving UK Ambassador Charlotte Burrows paid the women and girls of the Coop a visit last month. Charlotte reflects on the conversations she had with the Coop members about their lack of educational opportunities:
“As we sat down around an impressive spread of home-cooked food, the women talked freely about the insufficiency of girls’ education in their rural community. The nearest college is 30km away, a commute which families cannot afford, and so education stops at the age of 16 at the latest, although often as early as 10”
We are so grateful for our Global Giving supports who enable us to work with the amazing women and girls of Tassa Ourigane. With local partnerships and your support, the Coop will continue to flourish and will expand its literacy program.
HAF celebrated Mother’s Day this year by highlighting the story of Lalla Kbira, President of the women’s cooperative. She says: “I am a mother of 7 children; 5 boys and 2 girls. My two daughters are married as well as three of my sons. I am a midwife and a cook, two professions that I love. I have given necessary care, support and advice to pregnant women for more than 30 years. More than 100 children were born through the care I provide and now all of these children in the village call me grandma. Thanks to God, I have never had a serious situation or a problem as a midwife. My dream is to continue to provide care for pregnant women and their infants. I feel so happy to do this because I get rewarded by Allah. As president of the women's cooperative, I would love our cooperative to be a successful one and I aspire to make it so, and to make our business strong so that we can provide for all of our community. More than that, life is beautiful but hard, however we should be harder to keep it beautiful. For this, I want men and women of my community to contribute in making our village a prosperous, safe, and peaceful place."
Thanks to the support of our generous donors, on 5 May, HAF was able to deliver sewing and embroidery equipment and material to the women’s coop in Tassa Ouirgane. The women were so pleased to receive this delivery. They immediately divided the groups into a girls group and a women’s group to prepare to get the equipment ready for production.
The women have also received a special visitor. On 15 May, US Consul General Brian Shukan visited the coop site in the village of Tassa Ouirgane. Mr. Shukan saw the women knitting items for the home and purchased some of their goods. He and his team offered very helpful advice and ideas on product marketing.
Thank you to the donors who enable us to help remarkable women such as Kbira by offering them new hope and opportunities.
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