Equipping Young Peacemakers initiative spotlight: SHAGF
written by EYP participant Zainab Malik
The third SDG Roundtable of the Equipping Young Peacemakers program highlighted youth-led initiatives in the Middle East promoting SDG5: Gender Equality. During our conversation, I had the opportunity to showcase my work on women’s empowerment in Sudan.
Sudanese women need support in many aspects of their work, goals, small businesses, life, and relationships. SHAGF is an organization that provides this training through programs and specialist courses. It motivates Sudanese women to discover their dreams and equips them with the capacities they need to achieve those dreams.
The story of SHAGF began in August 2019. The idea came from Mariam Omer, a software engineering graduate with a history of seeking out personal growth and professional development opportunities. Mariam found through her own path that in the journey of life, everyone needs support – so she started a peer support Facebook group for Sudanese women. As the Facebook group gained traction, it planted the seeds for SHAGF. Mariam saw the conversations that were emerging as a spark for a full initiative.
Today, SHAGF’s main team includes four members as well as a range of volunteers. We got our start in May 2020: when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the team felt an urgency to our work. Many people had stopped their regular routines, spending a great time with themselves and their families. Though lockdown of course brought a great deal of disruption, it also brought a chance to connect and reflect in new ways.
We ran our first full program during Ramadan 2020. The SHAGF training program hosted twenty women. Eight mentors helped the participants explore a variety of topics, including self-confidence, SMART goals, and time management.
Today, more than 500 young Sudanese women have been trained through SHAGF workshops. These have included a “Love and Relationships” series, an “Organize Your Life” training, and our Ramadan 2021 program, in addition to a variety of open days, awareness-raising campaigns, and special events.
In the future, SHAGF wants to expand our reach, targeting Sudanese women from different states and ages. We will continue to address societal problems by enhancing women’s self-confidence, developing their capacities for small businesses and social ventures, and empowering everyone in our communities.
While thinking about the biggest lesson we have learned since this work began in August 2019, I am reminded of a quote from Zoey Sayward: “Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect.” We spent a lot of time trying to ‘launch perfectly’: making the organization official, sourcing lots of funding, hosting an opening ceremony, finding the perfect venue…but finally, we realized we were only delaying the start of our work, and getting caught up in details when we could be out there helping and learning with people. During the pandemic, we discovered that we only needed an online platform, quality speakers, and a good team. So don’t sit around stressing about ‘perfect’ conditions. Take what you have, and get out there: that’s what changemaking is really about.
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