Khartoum Leadership Training – Training Week One: focus on Women from Civil Society

by Amy Eaglestone and Meleny Tembo

It was fascinating just to be in Sudan.  On top of which, the call for applications to attend the Women’s Leadership Training attracted a group of women who were all of great quality and very committed. Our decision to target second tier leadership from organisations using an age requirement worked and the participants spoke about valuing the chance to attend training. The level of English proficiency was good enough that there was no Arabic spoken by the co-facilitator during the plenary sessions, which was great and also really encouraged the participants to speak English and be confident while doing so.

The Idasa trainers worked hard to manage expectations and adjust the course content to suit the needs of the participants. The group wanted a bit more of a focus on Leadership than the course necessarily includes, and the trainers shifted things around to give them just that. However, the participants wanted to look at Leadership from a more theoretical perspective and the course focuses on Leadership in a more practical manner. In the end the practical way of doing things won and they could see how the concepts fit together. It was absolutely amazing after the third day to hear the women express how the course had altered their way of thinking about themselves, their communities, democracy, citizenship, leadership, power, understanding diversity and how they could manage these, and how they were moved from their comfort zones to the unknown and back to the known.

The Idasa facilitators worked with a co-facilitator – Dalia – from our local partner the Gender Centre for Research and Training, who was learning as she went along but very quickly grasped the content and logic of the course. From discussions with the participants and others, a particular issue in Sudan is the generation gap, which we tried to manage by pointing out that different generations can learn from each other.

The course finished at lunchtime on Friday, and there was a lot of speculation concerning attendance, as it is their Sunday and the women have a lot of responsibilities at home. Yet, that morning every single participant turned up showing their commitment and excitement, as well as giving a “thumbs up” for the course content and our facilitators!

Sudan throws up some communication challenges so not all the detailed course information had been received by everyone but with the help of the Gender Centre, we made sure everyone was at the course and will communicate earlier prior to the follow-up session and second week of training in February 2013.

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