Engineer Olfa Sahouki is responsible for the investment project at the Tunisian municipality of Bou Salem. Here, she talks to us about partnering up with Voices of Youth of Krib to realize the Women’s Forum for a Culture of Advocacy:
Citizens usually participate in putting together the municipality’s investment program. We in fact rely on partnerships to implement municipal projects, and partnerships with organizations and associations are important to us, especially that they encourage citizens to take part in municipal work. For this program, we partnered up with Voices of Youth of Krib, which is the only organization we’ve collaborated with. The goal was to encourage women and those with special needs to play a role in choosing projects for the municipality to work on, particularly environmental projects that affect citizens directly.
On the strengths and weaknesses encountered while implementing the project:
It’s actually not easy trying to involve women and people with special needs in putting programs together, especially in terms of awareness. Women don’t usually have enough time, directly and effectively, but they came out strongly here, participating in our programs and with many organizations. They attended our meetings, helped decide on our investment program, and gave their opinions, and we took many of their proposals on board in the implementation phase.
On the role played by Voices of Youth of Krib during the Women’s Forum for a Culture of Advocacy:
The organization conducted a training session for women alongside an awareness campaign for women active in cooperative and in national work, and encouraged people with special needs to participate in our sessions. Frankly Voices of Youth of Krib played a very effective role and we arrived at some excellent results: we’re about to implement an investment project that has been approved by all the participants.
On how the awareness campaign changed her on a personal level:
Personally, it was the first time in a long time that I found myself getting new ideas. Before this partnership I didn’t really understand the problems faced by people with special needs, or about challenges that particularly affected women. I now have a much broader view about developing projects that include the entire country, projects for women, or projects for people with special needs, or for youth. My outlook before was limited, but after our debates and the exchange of experiences and information I now have a much more comprehensive picture of people’s needs.
On her impressions of the work done by Voice of Youth of Krib, which provided feminist awareness-raising sessions for the women trainers:
I could actually feel their seriousness, their careful attention to ensuring the project’s success. They were serious, they were always at the ready, and we stayed in contact even after the working relationship between us was over. I suggested they work on another project with us, a citizens’ empowerment and awareness-raising project. To be honest I found them serious in their work. They love being in service, they love offering up their best. This organization, this small, national organization in Bou Salem is highly aware of municipal work and its demands.