Women across Lebanon receive support to combat poverty

Direct Action for Women: Reform, Inclusion and Confidence (DAWRIC) project takes off with municipality and grass roots support

With EU funding, the Direct Action for Women: Reform, Inclusion and Confidence (DAWRIC) project is bringing change to women’s lives across Lebanon, helping them acquire skills that give them a way to earn money, leading to greater social justice. DAWRIC’s aims are to build women’s capacity and provide broad-based support for active involvement in combating poverty among Lebanese women and ensure gender equality in the political and decision-making realm.

After conducting regional introductory workshops across the country in January 2017, DAWRIC recruited 21 municipalities to take part in the project and introduced the scope and objectives to the communities in the four governorates of North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Bekaa and Beirut/Mount Lebanon. The project team then met with the mayors of the municipalities to seek their support and commitment in the implementation of the project activities, and to identify and select the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations (CBOs) to partner with. A total of 31 NGOs and CBOs were selected across the four governorates and attended focus group meetings between April and June 2017 in the presence of representatives from the municipalities to discuss the DAWRIC action plan and upcoming activities.
This was followed by capacity building sessions for 200 community facilitators, 75 percent of whom were women, who shared the knowledge received with over 4,500 people in 20 areas. The topics covered were active citizenship; dialogue and communication; local, national and global issues; design and implementation of social action projects (SAPs); accepting cultural differences; general concept and definition of gender and sex.

Subsequently, a total of 16 action projects were submitted by community-based and grassroots organisations in coordination with municipalities on issues that will have a positive impact on women in their communities, influence decision-makers and engage the wider community.

Nayla el Khoury, DAWRIC project director, explains, “We believe that these social action projects will present an opportunity for women to design projects based on their needs and to be active and get empowered socially and economically. So, the whole action will contribute to social justice.”

DAWRIC approved projects have a budget ranging between $7,500 and $10,000 and are predominantly engaged in vocational training in subjects such as sewing, culinary, secretarial, computer, and English language.

Not-for-profit association Voix de la Femme Libanaise is among the beneficiaries, thanks to its selection by the Chiyah municipality. The Chiyah branch of Voix de la Femme Libanaise, run by Georgette Azar for the past 17 years, has a nursery and provides training to the women of the neighbourhood. The nursery allows women to work while leaving their children in a healthy environment at a highly affordable price. In Azar’s words, this is a neighbourhood centre that promotes the family as one entity. Thanks to the funds generated by the nursery, the Chiyah branch is self-financed. In addition to the nursery, an atelier allows women to cook and sell their produce, such as seasonal jams and maamoul. With DAWRIC support and provision of materials, classes are being given to 40 women by trainer Souad Jabbour, who said that “all the pupils are gifted and want more sessions. We first started with glass, then moved to candles, then painting icons, in which they were very interested.” She explained that the classes allow the women to learn a craft that can be done at home. Mary, who participated in one of the classes, said that “it reenergizes us and we can create gifts,” while Faten commented that “it gives us strength, will, and shows us women have a role in life”.