No topic is off limits during our Women’s Empowerment classes. Stereotypes, sex, domestic violence, trauma, self-care, problem-solving, emotional maturity, anger managment—they talk about it all.
Each class is led by a facilitator, called a trainer, who guides the group through a variety of discussions.
Laylah and Khaleeda, who are both refugees from Iraq, each graduated from the program. Laylah later became a trainer.
How did you end up joining Women’s Empowerment? What are the classes like?
I came to Jordan in 2015. A friend of mine told me about the Women’s Empowerment course and said it had interesting topics and discussions.
The classes have women of different ages and nationalities, even different ideologies. I was initially anxious and scared because it was the first time I had had such an experience. I’m used to women sitting at home after they finish school or graduate from college. But our trainer was excellent and she had us discuss so many interesting topics together.
How has the program helped you?
My family consists of my husband and our three children, two of which have severe special conditions. I was very isolated and I didn’t see anything nice in life. It was a hard experience, but the program’s trainer really helped me.
Teachers are very important, maybe even as important as a mother and father. My teacher has made me into a stronger person, one who is able to face life. She has seen what is inside me. I remember how she determined each person’s personality. She said “this one is strong, this one is easy going, etc.” And then she said to me “Laylah, you are too afraid and so I am going to work with you until you are not.”
Sure enough, after we finished the program, all of us were different, not just me. Whether we ask the women who got resettled or the ones who are still here; they all feel a change in themselves because Women’s Empowerment is such a wonderful program. I have also made a lot of friends.
Did the program change your life?
The changes I went through impacted everything in my life. Now I am able to help solve my friends’ problems, my family’s problems, and my relatives’ problems. I can deal with situations more smoothly and easily, just by putting one foot in front of the other and taking it step-by-step. I no longer feel anxious and I am no longer afraid of problems. Now I look at the problem,organize my steps, and solve it. No one can control me.
No matter how much I praise the Women’s Empowerment program, I am still not giving it the credit it deserves. I hope this program continues because women like me need it; they need love and mental and psychological support.
Can you tell us about becoming a trainer?
After graduating from the class, I trained to be a teacher and then started to give lessons. The room usually has 22 to 25 participants who keep showing up because they enjoy the topics and learn something new. I treat participants as friends; Our relationship is not just as teacher and student.
Some people are older than me, and some have a higher education than me, and others are younger and have no education. I unite them and I do not discriminate. I try to help them with their lives, their problems and how they formulate their opinions.
I am lucky today that two women sitting next to me right now, Hala and Khaleeda, were two of my students!
What were they like as students?
Hala participated a lot and was responsive and eager to learn. One of the topics I gave them was about how a woman’s sense of self can become so strong that she supports herself and loves herself because she knows that she is special. As women we are similar, but there are no two that are exactly alike.
After talking about the importance of self-love, Hala came to the program’s graduation in a wonderful dress with full makeup. I said “Hala, how come you are looking extra beautiful today?”
She said “because you told us to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves.” I saw the fruits of my labor that day!
With Khaleeda, I noticed that she was unique, hardworking, and had self-confidence since day one. She could handle herself, but our lessons and discussions only added to that! What I am trying to get at here is that with the Women’s Empowerment program, a woman can come in and find what she wants.
Now I will let Khaleeda share her experience.
Why did you decide to join Women’s Empowerment?
I have been a refugee since 2014. Our community in Iraq used to be so beautiful. It had different cultures and ideologies. I was a social person and I made a mark everywhere I went! I am not trying to be prideful, but I was charismatic and I always socialized with the community.
But after everything that happened in Iraq, and becoming a refugee, I became a closed-off person. I was afraid to open the door to say hi to my neighbours. I lived in a state of fear. I feared for my children, and I was terrified of society as a result of all the shock that I had experienced. From 2015 until 2017, I struggled with challenging psychological problems.
But because of my husband and his support, I was able to come to CRP, and thank goodness they were able to wash a lot of the worries away. CRP was like a helping hand that reached out to me and helped me solve my problems and allowed me to trust again. I joined a lot of programs at CRP, like hairdressing, calligraphy, and most importantly, Women’s Empowerment.
How did Women’s Empowerment help you?
Every woman needs empowerment. This program gave us self-confidence and made women more aware of their surroundings. I noticed that each woman has her own set of problems.There are some situations and problems that I never thought would occur, but after participating in the program, I now know about these problems and their solutions.
We learned about the meaning of equality and self and justice and women’s rights, and a lot more that is hard to summarise into a few sentences.
The trainers also gave us space for discussion among ourselves. This taught us not to rely solely on the trainer because we had to come up with solutions to the problems with only the trainer’s supervision. I wish that there were more programs like this that support women and help them to continue on.
Why do you believe it’s important for women to be empowered?
Women are the root of society. If women are taught correctly, then the society will work correctly. We have this saying, “mothers are like schools,” meaning if the mothers are educated by programs like this, then the mothers will teach others how to be strong and how to confront their problems.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Women’s Empowerment is an excellent program and I hope it continues and grows and attracts more women. Maybe adding an incentive for women to come and learn and benefit will mean that in turn, society will benefit.
I hope I gave a good summary of the program, and I would like to thank CRP and all the trainers!