International Women’s Day 2018

With a view to social equity and equilibrium, the IECD favors actions that target women. About 2/3 of companies in the world are created by women. But they have to overcome many obstacles to achieve this and the income they earn from it is limited. Not greatly encouraged and not hugely valued, they experience major difficulties. Lili Maryse, Hadeel, Alexandra and Marie-José provide an account of their commitment to the cause of women as well as their own experience as women.

Lili Maryse is the coordinator of a training center

Lili Maryse Kouloufe is from Cameroon. In 2014, she joined Cameroun Entreprise Développement, one of the IECD’s local partners, and progressed very quickly. One year later, she was appointed centre coordinator.

For me, being a woman in a position of responsibility is not really something new or even extraordinary. It remains a challenge in terms of performance and results, in the same way as it is for men. In my case, this has often worked in my favor: men are often more open when they find themselves in front of a woman and are sometimes curious about meeting the person they have spoken to over the phone. I find this a great advantage for my public relations.”

However, she also recognizes that:

It is very common for men to approach me outside of work, believing that they can win my favor. […] Also, I have noticed that a number of my colleagues are concerned about me, wondering whether I am going to last because, for them, what I do is a man’s job and, to date, no woman has managed to hold the position”.

Lili Maryse’s role is to accompany women with start-up projects and entrepreneurs in order to act directly on their businesses and their living conditions as well as those of their families.

Society is increasingly aware of the social impact of female entrepreneurship. Owing to the responsibilities that fall on them (mother and spouse), many women remain within a framework of subsistence entrepreneurship, but, increasingly, young women are starting to develop genuine entrepreneurial ambitions. One of the main challenges for me since I have been at CED is to truly and effectively reach the female population!”

Hadeel is a member of the Council of the
Women’s Center in Anata

in Palestinian Territories.

Hadeel Alian decided to organize the “wedding cake” training course at her center for the benefit of 32 women from Anata.

There is a huge potential in Anata: everyone goes to Ramallah to buy cakes for major events, but it is very expensive! There is a market for a quality offering at an affordable price. We have a kitchen at the Women’s Center and we are already producing meals for local schools and the village’s population. We wanted to increase the range of products offered by our kitchen, but we didn’t know how to do it! We needed training”.

The first courses encouraged a great deal of emulation:

We have ambitions now! We want to open a proper cake production section for weddings and anniversaries. This will allow us to create jobs and income for the women of Anata. Ten women have already shown an interest in joining the new “enterprise” at the Center. We have to develop our knowledge in business management and organization even further in order to start production, but the IECD is there to support us.”

Alexandra is the manager of the IECD’s GDE program

Alexandra Girard is French-Egyptian. She started working for the IECD in 2014, initially based in Lebanon and then in Egypt, before joining the head office in Paris in January 2018.

The position of Project Manager of the Graines d’Espérance program occupied by Alexandra in Egypt meant that she had to impose herself as a female manager. It is not easy to establish your credibility, but she managed to do so through the success of the missions entrusted to her.

By placing its trust in me, the IECD has helped me to progress and has emancipated me. I started out as a young female graduate and I am now a professional woman. I owe this to the IECD.”

In contact with the young girls who benefit from the Graines d’Espérance program in Egypt, she refers to:

A true sense of feminine solidarity. We discuss common problems, the young girls ask me about my career, and are surprised about the position I hold as a woman, especially one who is so young. I am happy to be able to present them with a modern and free image of an Egyptian woman and to be able to show them that Egypt has its own values and treasures and that these can be exploited by women.”

Marie-José is President of the IECD.

Marie-José Nadal joined the IECD’s Board of Directors in 1998, which at the time, was made up solely of men. In 2007, she was delighted to accept the position as the association’s President.

Marie-José is happy to serve the thrilling but difficult cause of development through concrete training projects and to offer others the great opportunity of being able to learn a profession. This is perfectly in line with her desire for concrete commitment and openness to other realities. Convinced of the interest of such a great cause, Marie-José is particularly eager to defend the IECD’s actions implemented in favor of women.

My total support of the vision of the harmonious development of people who are in charge of the development of their own country led me to accept this role. And, women, children and young people are among the most marginalized members of the population: by allowing them access to adapted training, these people are able to play a major role in the development of societies”.

When a woman grows, society grows with her.”

Nada al-Khoder,

President of the Women’s Association in Hrar, beneficiary of the basic management training, Lebanon.