We firmly believe that supporting Moroccan women is a critical factor in community well-being and development. Every project begins with a workshop that equips women to practice self-expression and ends by identifying personal and communal priorities and goals.
Legal aid clinics, family literacy programs, and women's cooperatives all further these initiatives within the broader scope of sustainable community development.
The High Atlas Foundation begins every community development project with a women’s empowerment workshop facilitated by Moroccan women that seeks to expand positive behavioral capacity from the identification of personal priorities and goals. Since 2017, HAF has conducted over 100 IMAGINE workshops in 25 provinces with 2,500 women.
These IMAGINE workshops are part of an international movement originating with the Empowerment Institute in New York, founded in 1981 by David Gershon and Gail Straub. The program has been implemented in countries around the world as a tool to catalyze development by equipping women with the tools and strategies to practice spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical health.
IMAGINE’s Empowerment Workshop calls on participants to engage with seven critical areas of their lives: emotions, relationships, sexuality, body, money, work, and spirituality.
These seven life areas are directly relevant to the World Development Report’s focus on five areas of agency: women’s access to and control over resources; freedom of movement; freedom from the risk of violence; decision-making over family formation; and having a voice in society and influencing policy.
Since 2017, HAF has conducted 111 IMAGINE empowerment workshops in 25 provinces with 2,598 women, as well as 777 young girls.
"Many of the women I serve have little formal education, which they associate with knowledge... but they can clearly visualize their capacity to change their own lives and to make their communities better."
- Fatima Zahra, Imagine Facilitator
After IMAGINE empowerment workshops, many participants choose to launch cooperatives in their communities as a financial stimulus and social network. The High Atlas Foundation comes alongside these women to support cooperatives, often bringing in expert volunteers from the Farmer-to-Farmer program for training and problem-solving.
Cooperatives are planned and implemented by the women of the community. Many of the cooperatives choose to focus on agriculture, building fruit tree nurseries for local sale and distribution; value-added products and processing, artisan crafts, and textile production.
Many cooperatives have recognized the value of developing an online presence, and we've implemented a number of technical trainings through the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program. Increasing exposure and access to market is, for many women, a key concern due to remote locations and increasingly distant markets.
The Legal Clinic program initiates collaboration between Moroccan universities and underserved communities to increase equitable access to legal information, legal aid, and socio-economic integration in marginalized communities, specifically among women, youth, migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and survivors of trafficking.
Since the beginning of the program in 2009, HAF Legal Clinics have worked with 8 Moroccan universities, establishing 2 legal aid clinics in Fes and Marrakech with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).
The Family Literacy program, supported by the European Union (EU), promotes lifelong learning by addressing the literacy and numeracy needs of rural women and bolstering family literacy with activities for women, girls, and young children. This context-based approach to instruction incorporates early childhood development and parenting classes.
This three-fold, integrated approach to meeting the above objectives is intended to accelerate progress toward national goals, territorializing the national literacy strategy.
The program has three branches of impact: first, training and employing literate young women to teach basic literacy and early childhood development to women in remote, rural communities; second, enhancing access to pre-primary education by teaching mothers how to teach their children; and third, empowering women socioeconomically through education, technical training, and employment.