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French Version

Want a sustainable rural economy ? Train women (Daily Star)

Conference explains new project
New plan will increase training opportunities and income-generating activities

Women's contribution in the work field of rural areas was encouraged during a conference Wednesday, as participants explained the main targets of a project to enhance the abilities of women through intensive training.

"The main purpose of this project is to participate in creating a sustainable rural economy through strengthening the capacities of rural women and improving the level of their productivity," said Fadi Yark, the president of the Rene Mouawad Foundation - one of the main contributors in the project.

"This is happening through offering training for women, and helping them with their income-providing activities," he said.

The conference, which was held under the title "Rural Women's Income Generating Activities and Training Programs," took place at the Order of Engineers and Architects (OEA) in Beirut, and was attended by Agriculture Minister Elias Skaff, Minister of State Wafaa Hamzeh, the president of the OEA Sobhi Bsat, and representatives of the participant organizations in the project.

As explained by the project manager, Rania Khalil, the project was financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and will be carried out by the Mouawad Foundation and the Association for Developing Rural Resources.

According to Yark, the project will also enhance the work of local rural organizations, and encourage such organizations to form cohesive groups.

"The importance of this project is that it builds a model for development, and that it is concentrated on engaging women in rural development as main contributors, especially since their work is usually disregarded."

Louis Lahoud, the general director of the Agriculture Ministry, said that by addressing rural women, the project would be improving the living conditions of a very deprived group.

"This is one of the specific targets of the project," he said.

The conference also witnessed contributions by women's groups who presented their testimonies on development work in their areas.

Speaking on behalf of the Deir al-Ahmar Women's Association, Donia Khoury said that their association had helped train more than 300 women in the area.

Khoury said that the training sessions covered various issues such as helping women prepare preserved foods and handicrafts for sale; establishing small cooperates with the ability to give small loans and market products through exhibitions and various sale points.

But Khoury pointed out the difficulties facing the work of their association.

"Despite the efforts made by our association," she said, "the area needs a comprehensive development program, which covers different sectors such as education, health agriculture and tourism."

Beirut 27-12-2004
Majdoline Hatoum
The Daily Star

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