Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Women Activists in the Bekaa Advocate for Participatory Budgeting

Participatory budgeting is a must in nowadays society. It is a great way to increase the functionality and efficiency of the municipal work by understanding and reflecting the needs of the community. In Baalbeck Hermel region, it has also become a great means of empowering women, through a select few who are prepared to become leaders and pioneers by sharpening their skills, leading participatory budgeting projects, and enforcing the will of the community on the elected municipality members. 

The project, being of pioneer thoughts had to start from scratch. First, 4 groups of 15 educated women were created reflecting the ethnic, secular and generational diversity of our society. These women went through 4 months of training, undergoing as many as 15 workshops on citizenship, civic participation, municipal work and advocacy at LOST premises in Baalbeck, Hermel, Ein, and Bedneyel. After that, the groups, using all acquired skills, designed a questionnaire in an answer to a needs assessment. That questionnaire inquired about the knowledge of our society in municipal work priorities and needs. It studied the reflection of municipal work on tourism, agriculture, health and infrastructure. As results were gathered, these groups constructed a well designed study for the needs and priorities of their communities matching the finances of the municipality. Those studies were handed to the respective municipalities. People were so interested that supportive petitions were signed to persuade municipalities on adopting these thoughts.

LOST along with the British Embassy have reflected some of the beliefs in Women Empowerment through this project. These women are now a reference in society on participatory budgeting. They express the needs of the masses and reflect the opinion of their society, enforcing our need to increase women’s participation level in municipal work, as well as other areas of social, and economical development. They proved up to the challenge of doing it, so who is to say NO!?

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