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Gender and Development (GAD) Conference Spring 2001

Summary of Proposal

In the Spring of 1999 Peace Corps Morocco’s WID program organized its first annual conference. This conference focussed on forming associations and starting income generating projects. The second annual conference, held in the Spring of 2000, built upon the original conference by focusing long-term planning and funding alternatives. Based on the success of the the past two conferences, Peace Corps Morocco GAD is planning another conference this year.

This year’s conference hopes to attract 25 women from rural areas, identified by Peace Corps volunteers as active leaders in an association. The conference will bring these women together to hear speakers from, and interact with, women from various organizations active in Morocco. The theme of this year’s conference is ’Developing Leadership Skills Among Rural Women’. The conference will include time for group sessions as well as one-on-one meetings. It is hoped that the participants will build confidence in dealing with difficult situations, as well as basic project development and management skills.

Project Background

In the Spring of 1999 Peace Corps Morocco, WID hosted it’s first Spring conference. Seventeen host country nationals and 9 Peace Corps volunteers gathered for a three day conference (May 7-9, 1999) on the theme ‘Building Women’s Communities’. Based on the success of this conference the WID committee organized a second annual WID conference. Eighteen women and fourteen volunteers gathered for another three day conference (June 2-4, 2000) on the theme ‘Forming Women’s Associations and Cooperatives’. The conferences featured speakers from Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) which actively work with Moroccan women. Al Amana, a Moroccan micro-credit organization participated in both conferences, as did the Near East Foundation, an American Private Voluntary Organization (PVO). Also participating, among others, were speakers from AMSED, an umbrella organization of Moroccan NGOs and members of the Union National de Femme Marocain (UNFM), a Moroccan women’s organization.

The first conference focused on many of the basics of forming cooperatives and associations. The second conference built on the first conference, by discussing more structural aspects of associations and cooperatives, such as long-term planning and setting goals and objectives. Both the first and the second conference included sessions on funding options and microcredit.

Based on post-conference evaluations, both conferences were a great success. Women were enthusiastic about the sessions and excited to share the new information with their communities and associations. This year the GAD conference will return to Marrakech, host of the first conference, to build on the success of the first two conferences. Based on evaluations and input from women in our communities, this years conference theme will be ‘Building Leadership Skills Among Rural Women’. Associations have only recently been legalized in Morocco. As such there is much work to be done in developing capacity. The past two conferences have focused on some extremely important issues relevant to the creation and effectiveness of associations. This year’s conference focuses on developing the leadership and management skills of the leaders in associations. A strong leader is extremely necessary for the survival of young organizations. This year’s conference will include topics such as ‘Gender and Leadership. bases of

power and characteristics of a leader’, ‘Working and Communicating with Men’, ‘Project Management’, and ‘Decision Making’. Time will be provided for a speaker, group sessions, and individual consultation, a formula which received positive feedback from last year’s conference.

Verification of Partnership Guidelines

Project is community initiated and directed. The original idea for the Morocco GAD conference came from women in our communities who approached various Peace Corps volunteers for more information on forming associations or doing income generating projects. This conference is the result of the success of the past conferences. All of last year’s participants showed enthusiasm and recommended another conference. This year’s theme is the result of requests made by women active in volunteers sites. The structure of the conference is taken from evaluations collected at the end of the past conferences.

Project meets a pressing community need

In many areas of Morocco where Peace Corps volunteers are located, basic development work has been done. However in almost all rural areas of Morocco women suffer from lack of education, are not employed outside of the home, and are not active in working together to solve community problems. Supporting those associations which have formed, but lack institutional strength, is vital to the long-term involvement of women in civil society. This conference aims to meet needs expressed by women active in our communities for skills training to improve the success of associations which generate income for families and help women participate in development of their communities.

Community Contribution

The community contribution for this conference will be through the speakers from Moroccan organizations who will volunteer their time to share their experiences and act as resources for the participating women. The organizations will also be active in the planning of the conference, including human and logistical resources. The facility to be used for this year’s conference, Ecole Hoteliere de Marrakech, a hotel school located outside of Marrakech, has been offered at a significantly reduced rate.

Implementation and Sustainability

The planning of the conference, especially concerning themes and the content of the sessions, is being done in conjunction with Moroccan organizations and women living in our host-communities. It is hoped that by participating in the planning and execution of the conference, the participating Moroccan organizations will take an active role in organizing similar conferences in the future. However, it is the knowledge acquisition by the participants that provides the most sustainable aspect to the conference. Their actions upon returning to their communities, based on ideas discussed at the sessions, will prove the true impact of this conference.

Cross-Cultural Exchange

Volunteers will document the conference through photographs and a final report. This report will be shared with funders and friends at home. We also plan to report on the conference and other activities in a report to The Exchange. We understand that Partnership funds are to be used only for costs associated with the conference and that there can be no further request made outside the Partnership Program.


Attendees :

25 Participants

15 Peace Corps Volunteers

5 Speakers

1 Translator (Arabic to Tashelheet)

Category: Payday loans

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