WLP and CRTD-A Convene Middle East-Gulf Regional Learning Institute for Women’s Leadership

Participants at the InstituteOn November 18-21, 2005, 27 women's rights activists and leaders of women's groups from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen gathered in Beirut, Lebanon to attend the Middle East-Gulf Regional Learning Institute for Women's Leadership and Training of Trainers.

Women's Learning Partnership (WLP) and Collective for Research and Training on Development Action (CRTD-A) convened the Institute to create an opportunity for women activists in the region to develop skills in participatory leadership, facilitation, communications, and advocacy, building their capacity as leaders. This intensive skills development was designed to support participants in their work to empower grassroots women in the Middle East-Gulf region to actively participate in decision-making processes within their families, communities, and societies. In addition, the Institute created an opportunity for women leaders to engage in dialogue and reflect on shared challenges, developing stronger national and regional linkages.

All participants were experienced trainers with significant outreach capability within their respective countries and the ability to mobilize other individuals or organizations around women's struggles for gender equality. WLP's Moroccan partner l'Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), who previously hosted the 2004 WLP-ADFM Maghreb Regional Institute for Women's Leadership, advised the team of facilitators from Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.

Using the Shamy-Arabic adaptation of the Leading to Choices curriculum, participants engaged in interactive exercises, case study analysis and discussion, and role plays to practice participatory leadership, communication, and advocacy skills. Through ongoing reflection and discussion of these training techniques, participants also enhanced their facilitation skills.

In a role play on communicating with the media, participants took on the role of guests in a TV talk show, defending contrasting points of view. "One should not treat interacting with the media as an exam, but simply as a means of getting across a message and building public support for your goals," said Moroccan partner Amina Lemrini.

During the sessions on advocacy, participants used the Campaign for Arab Women's Right to Nationality in the Middle East and North Africa and Gulf regions coordinated by CRTD-A and other participating organizations as a case study. Using this case study, they identified the steps involved in developing effective advocacy campaigns. "It is extremely important to create flexible and adaptable action plans with several alternative strategies and clear ways of measuring impact," said Lebanese partner Lina Abou-Habib.

Role Play at the InstituteParticipants ended the Institute by discussing achievements and future plans. Participants had developed new skills in facilitation, communications and advocacy, and committed to planning and implementing participatory training sessions in their home countries. Participants with extensive training experience decided to meet for an in-depth methodology workshop in August 2006 to discuss ideas for further effective dissemination of the WLP-CRTD-A participatory leadership methodology. Video footage from the Institute will be used to create an Arabic adaptation of Leading to Choices: A Multimedia Curriculum, which builds on the training manual with a three-video set and accompanying training guides on facilitation, communication, and advocacy.

S:SSO to Sakai