Preparing a Young Generation of Activists & Leaders

Posted on 11 July 2012 by

The Global-TOT moves to Morocco

My first visit to Morocco was back in the spring of 1995, in the midst of the frenzy of the preparations for the UN 4th Conference on Women (Beijing, September 1995).  I was to meet and connect with feminist organisations there and engage on potential actions within and beyond the framework of the 4th Conference.  That was when I first met brilliant feminists who were to become my greatest friends.  My first encounter with Rabea Naciri and Amina Lemrini was an amazing entry into the world of feminist struggle in the Maghreb countries.  Ever since then, I became intimately involved with the amazing work of the Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc.  

Participants at WLP's G-TOT in Morocco, July 2012

What a privilege to be able to follow, up close and personal, the many struggles and achievements of this organisation starting from their old and first centre in a traditional house to the slightly bigger premises at the Quartier des Orangers in Rabat which housed the organisation’s growing.  What a privilege indeed to have been with Rabea Naciri back in 2001 when she was informed that, finally, and after decades of relentless activism, their fight for the reform of the family law succeeded in what would become the most advanced reform in the region.   What a learning experience it was to see my Moroccan feminist friends move immediately to the next phase of their struggle, to focus on gaps and new priorities, to critically review former strategies and think in in new ways.  Shortly after, and as a result of the organisation’s non-stop efforts, the Moroccan state continued with its reform to journey with the reform of the nationality law and the penal code.  The reform journey continued, not without sweat and tears, but always with determination leading to lifting Morocco’s reservations on CEDAW, the ratification of the CEDAW Optional Protocol and the referendum over the constitution in July 2011.

Throughout this journey, my organisation, CRTD.A, collaborated closely with ADFM as part of the Women Learning Partnership, within the framework of the regional Arab Women’s Right to Nationality Campaign and, more recently, as part of the Equality without Reservation Campaign.

To date, and after some eighteen years of collaborating together, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take part in ADFM’s overall effort to prepare a new generation of leaders within the framework of the Women Learning Partnership Global Training of Trainers initiative.  Less than a month after I had the opportunity to facilitate a similar workshop in Turkey along with my colleague Samah Helmy from Egypt, I engaged in an inspiring workshop targeting a group of very young women and men selected meticulously by ADFM with a view to engage in the medium term with a broader leadership and political participation process throughout the country.  The young people chosen came from various parts of the country and were all active in various youth and political organisations including a few very young members of ADFM.  As usual in our Global TOT interventions, the training of trainers was conceived to cover both content and methods whilst using three of WLP’s main training and facilitation tools (Leading to Choices, Leading to Action and the Multi-Media Programme).  Young participants exchanged ideas, were exposed to experiences from across the world, experimented with training tools (often for the first time) including role plays, group work, discussions and analysis.

Despite the fact that my visits to Morocco and to ADFM are rather frequent, this encounter with the new generation took me back to my first visit back in 1994 and made me realise how enriching and exciting this journey was and what an onus there is now on the new generation to continue this journey started by the pioneer feminists, with their support and accompaniment.  In various parts of the Arab region, I see young “feminist” activists obsessed with creating a “rupture” with their elders and starting all over with a tabula rasa.  That is why I felt that this continuity process and the space created by ADFM and the Women Learning Partnership for nurturing a young generation based on a transfer of learning, experiences and awareness of the past with its struggles, success and mistakes is an amazing process indeed.  Of equal importance is the realisation of how much the facilitation and training tools we have developed and are using now are critical in transferring this knowledge and making young people aware of that journey that earlier feminists have gone through, the battles they have fought and the space they have made possible today.

In a context laden with various forms of conservatism and extremism, today’s battle for equality, rights and justice can only be strengthened by this rich heritage.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Mishka Mojabber Mourani Says:

    A wonderful tribute to an amazing group of women. I have had the privilege to see them in action through my association with WLP via CRTD. The vision of Mahnaz Afkhami brought us together, and almost 10 years later, her leadership continues to ripple.
    Thank you, Lina for a great piece that was begging to be written!

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