Conflict and poverty implicitly means that women are the first to suffer. Women participation is a major challenge, and remains crucial in order to appraise the effectiveness of social change interventions. Despite the well-tailored design of many of development projects, they risk failure either because they don’t generate the ownership requisite within their constituency, or because they aggravate gender disparity and do not guarantee fair access and control over available resources.
The response of Imam Sadr Foundation is the inception of a particular and unique curriculum that targets young women and empower them to be active players economically, but also at social and political levels. The wider aim of this specific initiative is to enable deeper participation of the poor in development projects via the creation of pools of social workers who are gender aware and armed with mobilization and communication skills.
Thus, the mission statement of the program is two-fold and directly addresses the question of participation:
• To train active social workers/ community animators who are able to work with individuals and groups, of various ages, toward more interaction and better living conditions and growth for the community. It touches both individual and community growth.
• To support and encourage female young ladies to adopt a lifelong learning process, i.e. to continue studies, reaching university.
Young women in this program receive education, which leads to the ability to be self-sufficient, while they also learn how to organize and educate communities. This program focuses on girls from poor families who have stayed home while males in the area have traditionally received education. Upon graduation from the program, the young women have the educational background necessary for further study in college, or to go to work immediately for NGOs, municipalities and other organizations, helping to assure the participation of the local communities in managing their own plans of development.