During the Catalyst Change Week (CCW), We Love Reading (WLR) orchestrated a compelling session titled “The Impact of WLR on Social Networks, Empowerment, and Wellbeing”. This session delved into the profound effects of We Love Reading’s initiatives on social networks, empowerment, and overall wellbeing, aligning with the overarching mission of CCW to drive positive change and collaboration.
Leading this insightful discourse were notable figures: Prof. Rana Dajani, the founder of We Love Reading; Lina Qtaishat, the Research Project Manager at We Love Reading; and Prof. Catherine Panter-Brick, a distinguished scholar hailing from Yale University. The trio engaged in an illuminating dialogue that unveiled the outcomes of We Love Reading’s most recent research endeavors, conducted in partnership with various universities. Moreover, the discussion revolved around the potential for scaling up these impactful results to reach a wider audience.
Lina Qtaishat offered a poignant reflection, stating, “To overcome the challenge in the samples, we learned in WLR to build trust between us and women in the communities, not only with the women but also with community-based [entities].” This emphasis on establishing trust emerged as a pivotal factor in the success of We Love Reading’s interventions.
Prof. Catherine Panter-Brick contributed valuable insights, sharing, “We know that social work is one of the pathways to human flourishing and social support. Our research on specific networks is showing that the more diverse social networks you have, the better the key towards fostering a sense of agency.” She continued, “Our research revealed that individuals who engaged as community volunteers felt more resourceful and had a higher sense of well-being. It is becoming increasingly evident that our work helps to understand how people think about social ties, empowerment, and wellbeing, and why they take leadership roles in their communities.”
Prof. Panter-Brick concluded, “If you have a small network and work within always the same people who are like you, you’re more likely to take advantage of social and economic opportunities.”
The session also offered a concise overview of the research under scrutiny. Social networks, encompassing intricate interactions and relationships among individuals, are recognized as pivotal for socioeconomic progress. Nonetheless, rigorous examination of their influence on women’s psychological empowerment and life satisfaction, particularly within resource-constrained Middle Eastern communities, remained scarce.
In 2022, We Love Reading worked on a research that documented the social networks of 215 women in Amman, Jordan, comprising 106 Syrian refugees and 109 Jordanians. Employing a randomized controlled trial, half of these women engaged in a comprehensive We Love Reading training day, while the other half did not. Comprehensive data collection transpired before (baseline) and after (endline) the WLR training, offering profound insights into the transformative potential of We Love Reading’s Program.
This session stood as a testament to the remarkable impact that collaborative efforts, like those fostered by Catalyst Change Week, can have in generating positive change at both individual and community levels.