2007 Arabic eCourse with participants from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine

Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), in cooperation with WLP Lebanon/Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action (CRTD-A), conducted an online distance learning course (eCourse) for 25 women from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine from September 3 through November 22, 2007.

The course enabled participants to develop participatory leadership skills, encouraged cross-regional dialogue on rights, and emphasized peer-to-peer learning and cultural exchange. During online discussions participants explored the qualities of an effective leader, discussed challenges they face and their personal contributions toward realizing change, and developed a shared vision through engaging other participants. In discussions on the qualities of an effective leader, Nour* commented that leadership is "the art of cooperating and communicating effectively in order to reach a common vision." Laila* believes that leadership is the "flexible style of coordinating and cooperating with people."

The eCourse focused on five themes from WLP’s seminal work, Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women: developing participatory leadership skills; communicating persuasively; creating a shared vision; and strengthening civic organizations. Over the ten-week period, participants completed reading and writing assignments and participated in online discussions and group activities. The course took readings from Leading to Choices and supplemented them with additional texts such as Keshavan Nair’s A Higher Standard of Leadership: Lessons from the Life of Gandhi.

The course provided participants with the space to learn and share ideas. Zainah* commented, "This is a truly new and useful experience where I was able to connect with the world as if I was studying in a university of different nationalities." Lina*, a very active and committed participant, said, "My participation was by coincidence when I got an invitation from my professor. I didn’t believe that real leadership existed for women, but after reading and participating in the eCourse, I found out that everyone could be an effective leader in her own environment and place. The eCourse provided space where I was able to share experiences and challenges with people from different cultures."

Two advocacy projects were developed based on the work conducted during the course. One project focused on integrating human rights into education. The group will work towards mobilizing young people to engage in peer-to-peer training on human rights. The second group developed an advocacy campaign to stop honor crimes in the Arab region and to reform legislation related to honor crimes. The campaign will involve networking, interaction with the media, and a study on honor crimes in the region.

WLP has conducted four eCourses in the past in three languages: Arabic, English, and Persian. Participants include women whose ability to attend face-to-face workshops is constrained by security considerations, socio-cultural factors, or lack of access. eCourses enable participants from different towns, countries, ethnic groups, classes, and generations to learn together, as long as they share a common language and internet access.

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