Once women come to realize that they can have a say and that working together brings power, countless ideas and civic organizations come about, said exiled former Iranian Minister Mahnaz Afkhami during an international meeting of non-governmental organizations to discuss the empowerment of women in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
September 24-28, 2004 The Women's Learning Partnership's (WLP) Transnational Partners Meeting convened in Beirut, Lebanon from September 24-28, 2004. Partners from 12 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East gathered for an intensive five-day brainstorming and strategy meeting on 1) expanding the programs of the WLP Partnership for empowering women and girls through culturally relevant approaches to leadership development and capacity-building and 2) strengthening and expanding linkages within the Partnership. The meeting was hosted by WLP's Lebanese partner, Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action (CRTD-A). During the meeting, partners exchanged best practices on enhancing women's leadership capacity at the grassroots, planned new programs and curricula for future development, and strategized on ways to strengthen the Partnership.
 It has taken my generation 20 years to learn how to speak to the media in convincing ways and I want this new generation to learn these skills more quickly.  — Institute Participant Twenty-six women’s rights activists and leaders of women’s groups from Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia participated in the Institute, one of the first training and networking forums that brought together women activists from across the region. In the Maghreb context, leadership ability is often linked with privileged positions granted through family or tribal ties, money, and education. However, Institute participants identified a number of “ordinary” women as leaders because of their courage and the risks they took in raising their voices against certain taboo issues and unjust practices.
By the end of the Institute, three teams of participants each developed a final project that addressed a social problem facing their community. One group decided to create a national political front based on meritocracy and gender inclusiveness to help build national consensus and unity, and increase voter turn-out and participation in the next national elections in Afghanistan. This front, which they called the National Consensus Front, would consist of one male and one female representative from each political party and would collectively work for the common good, sustainable development, and peace in Afghanistan.
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