The Academy for International Development – Middle East (AID-ME) is dedicated to increase participation of young women leaders in their society’s public affairs in the Middle East and North Africa region. These four BRIDGE workshops in Amman, Beirut, Cairo, and Tunis represent an integrated part of AID-ME effort to create qualified regional pool of women leaders who can carry out governance reform in the region. Participants of the four workshops were selected from 2400 women leaders in the four countries who will represent the first seed of the regional election observation team in the Arab World. The election observation team is planned to be part of the Regional Federation for Youth Civic Engagement (under registration). Both the election observation team and the regional federation are part of the regional project “Young Women Leadership in Political and Social Development” (YWLPSD) implemented by AID-ME in the MENA region.
The regional “Young Women Leadership in Political and Social Development” project is a two-year regional project being implemented by AID-ME as a pilot project in (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. The overall goal of the project is to create first and second lines of active young women leaders who should act as change agents within their communities for the civic participation and good governance practices.
YWLPSD program has two main components: The first focuses on skills and behavioural acquisition through a 24-month learner-centred leadership and advocacy skills training program that includes Information and Communication Technology, advocacy, decision-making, voluntarism, political systems, good governance, elections, negotiation, gender mainstreaming, women’s rights and democratic principles etc. The second component provides participants with opportunities to community based platforms to apply the acquired skills and knowledge to real-life situations in private, public, and civil society sectors. Participants are selecting and designing their own interventions, which may involve outreach and awareness-raising on a wide range of political and social reform topics in their societies in the four countries. In addition, those emerging leaders are working to facilitate social dialogue forums on democratic reform issues, and to train and mentor other peer young leaders on public affairs issues to enhancing their political awareness and foster their participation.
A significant output of the program is the establishment of the Regional Federation for Youth Civic Engagement to start with these four countries and to outreach the entire Arab World in a later stage. As mentioned earlier, the federation is planned to sustain the on-going efforts by those young female leaders and their NGOs in the four countries and to play an important role to enhance election processes in the Arab countries. The federation will also serve as a platform for women leaders in the Arab World to be engaged and play active role in the on-going election reform in several Arab countries.
The YWLPSD program is being implemented by the Academy for International Development in partnership with 24 local organizations in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia. AID-ME together with its 24 partner organizations are the members and founder of the Regional Federation for Youth Civic Engagement (FYCE).
With the aim of FYCE to contribute to the electoral reform process in the Arab World, AID-ME in cooperation with its partner organizations organized four BRIDGE workshops (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance, and Election) in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia as follow:
I. Egypt BRIDGE workshop from 30 Jan – 3 Feb 2013,
II. Lebanon BRIDGE workshop from 21 Feb – 25 Feb 2013,
III. Jordan BRIDGE workshop from 15 Mar – 19 Mar 2013, and
IV. Tunisia BRIDGE workshop from 27 March – 31 Mar 2013.
Each workshop brought together about 25 selected participants representing six different societies in each of the four countries mentioned above. Participants in each country represented six deferent organizations with the aim to enhance their understanding of the principles that underpin the electoral process and share with them comparative experience from the region and other parts of the world. Such experiences needed as a framework in which participants can assess their own local experience and draw on best practices and lessons learned.
Early this year AID-ME together with the BRIDGE team in Cairo draw a regional plan to prepare and deliver six BRIDGE workshops for YWLPSD beneficiaries and partner organizations. Four BRIDGE workshops on introduction to election process were planned to be conducted in the four countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia between February and March 2013. These four BRIDGE workshops targeted 100 participants from the women leaders and officials from the 24 partner organization in the four countries.
Based on these four workshops, 20 participants will be selected based on agreed criteria to attend a regional TtF. Five selected participants from each of the four countries will be invited to a regional TtF that will take place in Lebanon in May 2013. The objective of the planned regional TtF is to create a pool of qualified BRIDGE facilitators as a seed for regional BRIDGE team in the MENA region. This facilitator team will be hosted by the federation that will address election reform and youth involvement in election process in the Arab World.
After the TtF and as a final step of this stage, there will be a BRIDGE workshop in which three semi accredited facilitators from Lebanon TtF will be accredited as a completion of the first round.
The four BRIDGE training workshops within the first round as mentioned above were held in sequence from February to March 2013 in Cairo, Tripoli Lebanon, Amman and Tunis. The training course was designed to cover the following main topics.
Introduction to Election,
Voter Registration, and
Ninety-three persons participated in these four workshops from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Participants came from three different governorates in each of the four countries with a total number of twelve governorates to ensure equal geographic representation of the participated women leaders. 82% of the total participants were female and 18% were male participants. The average number of participants for each workshop was 23 participants. All participants were involved in the YWLPSD program: 65 participants from the women leaders, 2 participants from the Academy for International Development, 21 participants from the 24 partner organizations implementing the project in the four countries, 3 participants from the Regional Federation for Youth Civic Engagement, and 2 other categories.
The age of participants from YWLPSD was between 21 and 25 years. The average age was 23 years for female participants who represented the YWLPSD in the four BRIDGE workshops as the project is targeting only young women with age between 18-25. However, the age limitation was not applied on other participants from officials of partner organizations, AID-ME, and the members of Youth Federation for Civic Engagement.
The Facilitation Team
Three accredited BRIDGE facilitators participated in the preparation and the delivery of the four workshops:
1 Hassan Hussein – Lead Facilitator
2 Samah Fathy – Workshop Facilitator
3 Nabil Shalby – Workshop Facilitator
The three facilitators brought together different dimensions to the workshops: international, election, democracy, governance and Human Rights experiences and provided a good mix of local, regional and international comparative knowledge.
Through the daily evaluation by the end of every day and the final evaluation of the entire workshop, participants of the four BRIDGE workshops in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia were very satisfied by the workshop. Their daily and final evaluations reflected that. Most of them requested other workshops in different BRIDGE modules. Several participants demanded that the time should be longer to maximize the benefit of the workshop. The majority of participants either from young women leader, officials from partner organizations, or from the youth federation was keen to show their high interest and willingness to attend the following workshop on Train the Facilitators that will take place in May 2013 in Lebanon.