Moroccan women's group to host int'l forum
By Imane Belhaj for Magharebia in Casablanca – 19/03/10
Women's rights activists will meet in Essaouira on March 27th for a forum hosted by Women's Tribune, the organisation's leader said in a press conference on Tuesday (March 16th).
Fathia Bennis said the two-day event would welcome key activists from countries around the region, under the banner of "Women and Authority: From Saying to Doing". Participants from Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy and Spain will discuss the role of women in politics, mass media and the marketplace.
Women still face many obstacles to achieving total gender equality, Bennis told reporters. "We're not victims. We have responsibilities that we want to live up to, until the end. Our liberation means liberation for men, too," Bennis said.
Women's Tribune was founded last year to promote discussion about gender equality around the Mediterranean basin, and the organisation actively recruits the participation of both men and women.
The forum will focus on the realisation of two key projects: establishing a nursery in every Moroccan workplace, and creating a national observatory to monitor and follow up on gains in women's rights, Bennis said. The new observatory will also be charged with studying new project recommendations to submit to the government.
In line with the first project, Bennis plans to use the upcoming conference to spotlight Morocco's first company boasting a nursery on its premises. She praised Webhelp Maroc for taking its employees' concerns into consideration, especially in terms of childcare.
"It boosts the productivity of enterprises, as employees will feel more comfortable working in close proximity to their children," Bennis said.
Salwa Karkri, an MP and active member of Women's Tribune, said the forum's discussions would be inclusive, with the opinions of both men and women solicited and debated.
Karkri added that gender equality was critical to Morocco's economic development.
The "advanced status" granted to Morocco by the EU makes it necessary for the country "to engage women in all development initiatives", Karkri said, adding: "Countries that assume a good position in terms of equality are also those that are advanced in terms of development."
Participants in last year's conference raised 400,000 dirhams to donate to the Zakoura Education Foundation, which works to provide access to schooling for girls in low-income and rural areas.
Youssef Saibi, a Women's Tribune member who attended the March 16th press conference, said he believes women's rights have come a long way in Morocco. Saibi said recent elections had resulted in many women taking positions of power.
"When women are determined to undertake a social, economic or political job, nothing stops them," he told Magharebia.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.