The Balqees Initiative (TBI) is a leadership development and community-level awareness-raising program targeting women and youth from Mareb implemented by the Partners for Democratic Change in Yemen (former Partners-Yemen) in 2010. The overall goal of TBI is to establish a network of women`s leaders possessing the capacity, resources, and skills necessary to raise local level awareness around key development topics. In order to build such a network, TBI trains influential females in rural Yemen in leadership, facilitation, and conflict management skills, as well as critical development topics such as health, youth empowerment, education, and entrepreneurship. As an end state, TBI will establish a network of key development actors with the capacity, resources, and skills necessary to deliver messages and ideas, which reinforce positive values and enforce stability in Yemeni society.
Initial 25 women leaders were recruited and trained in community engagement and basic health, education, and economic development best practices. These women were then responsible for training an additional 240 women from their local communities, who hosted 4,000 community outreach events throughout Mareb on relevant education, health, and economic development topics reaching over 30,000 women and youth.
The TBI team was able to turn the presence of male escorts (muhrams) at the trainings for women, from a challenge into an asset by providing separate training sessions for the men, transforming potentially suspicious male relatives into advocates for women's role in development
Within the first year of implementation the solution has achieved the followings:
- Women involved as primary and secondary leaders seeing themselves as stakeholders and drivers of development and community level change.
- Men (escorts) incorporated into the program, resulting in their willingness to support their female relative in the program and tell other men about what they have learned in the program.
- Increase knowledge of primary leaders: The 50 Social Facilitators showed an average improvement of 41% between pre- and post-test scores on the subjects of leadership, facilitation, conflict management, education & youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and health.
- Overall health benefits: following the program saw an increase in vaccinations in certain communities.
The project was extended into the Shabwa region with the aim to reach an additional 30,000 women and youth through local women leaders.
Partners: US Embassy in Yemen, Ministry of Local Administration (MOLA), governor of Mareb
Together for Democratic Change
Jonathan Apikian, Deputy Director, Middle East & North Africa
Address: PO Box 16302
Phone number: +1 202 469 3662