WLP and Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan Convene Middle East/North Africa Institute for Women's Leadership in Jordan

December 9-15, 2003

Lina Quorah and Mahnaz AfkhamiWLP convened the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) Regional Roaming Institute for Women’s Leadership from December 9-15, 2003 in Petra, Jordan. Thirty women leaders from eleven Arab countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, and Yemen took part in the week-long Institute for training of trainers.

The goal of the Regional Roaming Institute was to empower and train Arab women activists in the Middle East and North Africa to become better trainers and advocates for women’s rights and equal participation in civil society. WLP President, Mahnaz Afkhami who was in Jordan for the event said, ”The Institute was a positive experience that brought a spirit of hope, optimism, solidarity, and faith in the future so much needed in a region that is undergoing a challenging period of transformation.”

The Institute was organized in cooperation with WLP’s Jordanian partner, Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan (SIGI/J), one of the most effective Jordanian women’s organizations working to promote women’s human rights through education and skills training programs. The MENA Regional Institute built upon the material and expertise developed in WLP’s pilot international Roaming Institute for Women’s Leadership held in Maryland in 2002. Participants included lawyers, educators, grassroots organizers, and activists working to promote democracy, human rights, and women’s political participation in the region.

Mishka Mojabber Mourani facilitates a workshop discussionThe week-long event consisted of a 5-day training on developing skills in interactive facilitation and communication and a 2-day training on using information and communication technologies for developing effective advocacy campaigns. Using the Shamy-Arabic adaptation of Leading to Choices: A Multimedia Curriculum for Leadership Learning as the primary curriculum, participants in the leadership and communications training shared personal leadership experiences and worked together to develop collective vision statements and communication strategies. Mishka Mojabber Mourani, Senior Vice-President of International College in Beirut, Lebanon said, “I was struck with the energizing quality of the participatory methodology. It brings out each participant's best ideas and generates creativity in the group. We stop thinking of leadership as gaining power over others and begin to think of leadership as generating power for all--power to do things that matter to society.”

Participants shared their leadership success stories, including several Jordanian women who described how they designed their campaigns for municipal offices following their participation in a leadership training workshop. “I ran for election. I knew I did not have much of a chance to win, but I received more than 1300 votes- a substantial number in that election. This was one of the best experiences of my life in terms of developing my self confidence,” said Jordanian workshop participant Zinat of her campaign experience.

Middle East North Africa Roaming Institute ParticipantsIn the technology training sessions participants gained skills in conducting online research, designing publications, and developing media strategies for executing an advocacy campaign of their choosing. By the end of the workshop, participants had a comprehensive campaign strategy to present to members of their respective organizations.

The Institute also provided an opportunity for South-South exchange of experience, information, and knowledge among women’s rights activists who come from nations with similar social, political, economic, and cultural conditions. By the end of the Institute, participants expressed their commitment to apply the knowledge and skills gained from the workshops to the expansion of trainings within their own organizations.

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