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Adult education is in general the opportunity for a person to enhance employment prospects, develop personally and professionally, and obtain transferable skills that can be deployed in the job market. In the case of women, who universally have fewer opportunities in every area, the role of education assumes greater significance in the effort of gender equality.

According to the European commission of Service for Foreign Policy Instruments that issued the following charter of Women’s Empowerment Principles, promoting education and training and professional development for women is crucial. Raising awareness, skill building, and translation of the latter into practice increases women’s economic options and promotes their sense of self worth.

There is a compelling need worldwide to increase these women’s awareness and understanding of their own potential to influence their lives, families, and communities. Given the specific characteristics of the particularly disadvantaged group to which women belong, educational training should offer them tools for finding their own motivation, developing self-confidence and determination, together with self-management and self-control skills. Taking action in order to help women coming from disadvantaged background of any kind and any sort through a tailor-made educational path is a duty that institutions at any level should embrace.

The European project FORWARD, Fashion, Crafts and Design for Women Empowerment presents an example of how women from a disadvantaged background could be involved in a tailor made educational path, by giving them the opportunity to be part of a training course in a specific sector such as fashion, design and crafts. The innovative courses implemented by the three partners of FORWARD, aim to lead participants to achieve basic knowledge and understanding of each area of the sector as well as to achieve practical skills and competences that could be an important step towards self definition and self determination in relation to a possible future employment.

This final document, a collaborative report, demonstrates how the four organisations involved in the project (Flo, The Open Network, DFFWAC and FISM) – despite their differences – have come together to work on the implementation of the innovative training course, aiming to set a precedent for future similar projects in other European countries.

It has been a long journey, full of challenges and satisfactions, but above all it has been a remarkable opportunity for all participants (organisations, beneficiaries, trainers) to grow in competence and awareness, and the relationships that have been established during the project have been one first major step towards productive future collaborations.

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