From where I stand: “Women are drivers of change for fostering peaceful communities”
Nicole Kassis, 43, has been a professor of French for over 23 years at the College des Soeurs Du Rosaire, in Sin El Fil. This mother of two embarked on a journey of self-development and became a community mobilizer after joining a Women’s Committee created under the REVIVE Project, which provides interactive training opportunities to a network of women to drive change in their communities.
I have lived in Sin EL Fil, a suburb in Mount Lebanon, east of Beirut, for my whole life. My community is my home, a place where I grew up and where my family, friends and neighbours live. Supporting my community in any possible way has always been important to me.
Last year, I joined the REVIVE Project and soon I became a member of one of the two Women’s Committees established in Sin el Fil and Bourj Hammoud. It was a proud moment for me to be amongst passionate women advocating for peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable communities.
We hold meetings twice a month. In the beginning, we used this time to share experiences with one another, I felt very inspired by the other members, and it was then that I started to strongly believe that my voice and other women’s voices in the community should be heard, and our rights should not be ignored.
Through the Committee, I grasped many new skills including effective communication and planning skills - we often practiced holding discussions to hone our mediation skills and effectively formulate and convince others of our points of view. We also regularly attend ‘Political Cafés’, a series of public discussions, open to women and men, organized on a regular basis to address and discuss pressing issues around women’s political participation.
Thanks to the Women’s Committee, I finally felt empowered to question what I see and what is happening in my community, both politically and socially. I was finally convinced of my ability to drive change within my community on many levels and that it was my duty to use my voice to do so. This is when I decided to take on the role of community mobilizer. In my new role, I have been raising the awareness of other women on their rights including their equal participation to taking decisions in our community and empowering them to use their own voices to do so.
I believe women are drivers of change for fostering peaceful communities. I encourage women to believe in themselves, as I have learned to do, and never to say or think that they are not providing added value, or that their ideas will not make a difference.
As a next step, I am planning to implement small initiatives and projects with other members of my community, focused on improving the lives of children and families in neighbourhoods facing extreme poverty. I am now convinced that we should never wait for others to take initiatives. It is our community and our society; therefore, it is our responsibility to make change happen”.
Nicole Kassis’s story showcases the community efforts conducted by the Women’s Committee under REVIVE project, led by local NGOs Madanyat and ONDES. The project is funded by the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) and the Government of Germany, with technical support provided by UN Women Lebanon.