Dar Si Hmad considers women’s empowerment to be a driving force throughout its work in environmental development, education, and intercultural exchange in Southwest Morocco. We recognize that women bear the brunt of poverty and resource scarcity, and our work focuses on training women of all backgrounds and skill levels to take on leadership and decision-making roles within their communities to ensure truly sustainable development. Simultaneously, research has shown that investments in women are much more likely to be reinvested in future generations and bring about tangible improvements in the quality of life for their children. Throughout our projects, Dar Si Hmad’s approach focuses on enhancing quality educational opportunities and sustainable practices for vulnerable populations, especially women and girls.
Dar Si Hmad’s industry-leading Fog Collection Project, which uses fog nets to to deliver potable water to resource-poor communities in Aït Baamrane, empowers women by distributing labor in more equitable ways and freeing time for women to focus on education and meaningful employment. Prior to the fog water inauguration, women in partner villages spent up to four hours collecting water for their homes every day. To ensure women are able to use the newfound time in ways that benefit them and mitigate the potential negative impacts of alterations to local gender norms, Dar Si Hmad coordinates weekly capacity building trainings to teach functional literacy and mobile technology usage and to explore cooperatives as routes to economic empowerment. Sustainable, locally led businesses further boost resilience as communities have access to multiple income sources. Expanded literacy has also allowed female beneficiaries to take a more substantive leadership role in the planning and implementation of the fog harvesting system and related development projects.
Engagement projects in the beginning stages : goat herding, an Argan collective, and a permaculture initiative.
For these ongoing projects, we follow the example of UNWomen :
Life was hard before… The difference now [having water in our homes] is like lifting off a heavy burden.
-Female beneficiary, May 2015
Among our gender-focused development projects is the Water School, an environmental education program for rural youth, where the majority of students are female and between the age of 8 and 16. These girls face social and systemic barriers to continuing their education or pursuing leadership roles, especially in the natural sciences. Through lessons in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math), the Water School emboldens girls to explore the world around them, overcome stereotypes, and nurture environmental sustainability. Young boys likewise learn to respect the contributions of their female peers and collaborate toward the mutual goals of preserving scarce natural resources and building a better future for coming generations.
For older girls in the region, now the first generation from their community to leave the villages to continue their education, the Girls’ E-Learning program provides educational support services via an innovative online platform to help them pass national exams and pursue higher education. In rural Morocco, 63 percent of students of secondary school age (12-17) are no longer in school, the vast majority of whom are girls. Along with the Water School, the E-Learning Program is challenging the assumption that women do not belong in STEM fields or institutions of higher education. Girls’ lives are changed as they successfully finish high school with a wide range of skills, empowered to seek further opportunities. In turn, these girls are challenging mindsets and systemic discrimination, leveraging female education for community growth.
Dar Si Hmad is also a founding member of the Search for Common Ground alliance of Moroccan NGOs committed to women’s socioeconomic empowerment and equality before the law, Tout le monde gagne – الكل رابح (“Everyone wins”). In collaboration with other NGOs and cooperatives, Dar Si Hmad hosted the alliance’s national caravan event in Agadir, bringing together hundreds of stakeholders active in the domain of women’s rights in the Souss Region.
We are very proud participants of the Let Girls Learn campaign initiated by First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. Some of our RISE program trainees were lucky enough to be invited to the White House to tell the story of their education.