Event Reports

Economic Empowerment of Women in Rural Areas – Halba/Akkar

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Beirut, in partnership with the Committee for Women and Children at Lebanese Parliament, the SMART Center and the Union of Municipalities of Al Shafat launched the third and last workshop out of three entitled “Economic Empowerment of Women in Rural Areas”. The workshop took place on the 15.07.2019 in Halba - Akkar in the presence of women from Wadi Khaled, Akkar and Tyre and women entrepreneurs, mayors and dignitaries from the region. The workshop, aimed to shed the light at the women entrepreneurs in the region and train them in areas related to financial management, marketing and branding. It also gave the women entrepreneurs from the region the opportunity to network with women entrepreneurs from the region of Tyros and with each other. The theoretical part of the workshop was complemented by practical exercises as well as an exhibition in which the participants presented their goods to a broad public and to each other for peer review.

The workshop started by an opening session moderated by the journalist, Mr. Yehia Seddik. Mr. Tony Abboud, the president of the union of municipalities of Al Shafat welcomed the audience and said: “Since societies do not develop without the cooperation of their citizens, especially men and women, and since we belief in the leading role of the Lebanese women, who according to the Lebanese Law represent half of the society, we had to face the challenges facing small and medium-sized entrepreneurs by forming a group to work with decision-makers. These decision makers helped to create projects and initiatives to improve the situation of women and to explore the needs of women in Akkar and looked with officials to overcome these difficulties through government programs. These programs shall improve the financing and development of economic projects, thus helping to enable women and families to stay in their areas and not to move to the city or outside Lebanon. These programs also help to open doors to market products in order to transform this work into a productive force that contributes to raising the economy in general”. Mr. Abboud also stated that 40% of the women in Akkar work in agriculture and that the closure of the Agricultural Credit Bank was a big loss for the region. Mr. Abboud said that out of the 1350 cooperative which exist in the North, only 250 are womens’ cooperatives and only half of them are operational. Mr. Abboud finally asked the Minister Dr. Ezzeddine to focus on a region which has been since years deprived and forgotten by the central government.

The executive director of SMART Center, Mrs. Randa Yassir, presented the recommendations to the responsible persons according to the results of a survey conducted at that time in three regions on the needs of women working in small and medium-sized businesses in the South, Bekaa and Akkar. Thus training was provided according to needs and highlighted the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs seeking together with the experts’ appropriate proposals and solutions.

In addition, the administrative director and project manager at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in the Lebanon Office, Mrs. Hana Nasser, spoke about projects and initiatives to improve the reality of women in Lebanon and said: “The Konrad Adenauer Foundation works closely to empower women in society. In recent years, we have focused on political participation in elections in cooperation with the Ministry of Women's Affairs, the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training, the AD4 Peace Foundation, Central House Research, the Jana Foundation and other ministries and institutions in terms of defining the new electoral law and urging women to participate actively to express their opinion and to become members of the municipalities or parliament and to assist political parties in carrying out the necessary reforms and shedding light on the work of women. And she concluded:” "We tell women in the south, the Bekaa and the North that the contribution of rural women is necessary to help preventing emigration and that the economic empowerment of women is essential for their political empowerment. Therefore, they should use this workshop to network with each other and with the experts and to learn from the feedback given to them during the exhibition”.

The president of the Committee for Women and Children at Lebanese Parliament, HE Dr. Enaya Ezzeddine, stated that Akkar unfortunately remains forgotten due to wrong economic policies that have dropped out of the development map many Lebanese areas, especially the border parties from the north, east and south. These policies were based on the consumer economy rather than on the productive economy. Dr. Ezeddine pointed out that opening new horizons and enabling women to complete economic projects according to the available local capabilities, can be done without the need for large capital funds and may generate great benefits such as: Financial assistance to the family, stabilizing the family in their regions and villages, enhancing and developing the productive spirit, permitting self-reliance in dealing with difficult financial conditions and difficulties of life and creating local and self-employment opportunities. Nevertheless, the positive spirit has been instilled in society in general and in women in particular, and given them hope in the ability of industry to change and withstand the tough conditions of life. Dr. Ezzeddine summarized the challenges facing women during the 3 workshops in the South, Bekaa and the North, were financing, competition and marketing.

After the opening session, Dr. Tarabay presented a report on Akkar and the needs of small and medium-sized business women and a Q&A session took place, where the attendees had several interventions and inquiries to Dr. Ezzeddine, especially about the challenges facing women cooperatives to open a bank account to benefit from international donations, although all papers are provided to the bank on time and to sell and market their products to the public.  

The opening session was followed by the opening of the exhibition, where women from different villages from Akkar presented their products.

Subsequently, two sessions were hosted. The first session was on “Empowering and Developing Capacities in Financial Management and Finance” and was moderated by the journalist Sabah Kayal. Mrs. Mira Jamal Esber talked about “Developing Financial Management for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises”, Mr. Hassan Trabelssi talked about "Government Programs for Improving Financing and Developing Economic Projects" and Mrs. Asma Moustafa presented "Models for Community Projects for Capacity Building for Rural Women". The session was followed by the presentation of success stories and a Q&A session.

The second session was on “Challenges and Solutions in Advertising and Marketing” moderated by the journalist Yehia Seeddik. During the session, Mr. Joseph Yacoub talked about “The Basics of Marketing and Its Fields” and named different websites where women could get free website designs or starting an e-commerce such as  “squarespace”, “WorldPress” or “Shopify”, Mr. Ibrahim Dahr talked about “Developing the Relationship with Merchants to Improve Marketing” and invited the participants to participte at events next month while Mrs. Alegania Makhoul talked about “Marketing throughout the Programs of the Ministry of Agriculture” and invited the participants to contact her for further details. The sessions were closed by the presentation of success stories and a Q&A session.

KAS thanks all participants and guests for their valued contributions to the panels, discussions and the exhibition.

Hana Nasser