Saturday, March 10, 2012

Women's day, every day

This past Thursday (March 8) marked an internationally-recognized day called International Women's Day. In 29 countries throughout the world, it is considered a national holiday (the U.S. and Morocco are not included on that list). International observances of this day date back all the way to 1910, initially having started as a Socialist political event, and then gaining traction in the West many years later with a declaration from the United Nations in 1977 to proclaim this as a day for women's rights and world peace. If you are interested in learning more about the day and its history, you can read more here. And if you are wondering (as I was) if there is also an International Men's Day, there is.

One of my English students in class tonight echoed my thoughts on the day - why are we just celebrating one day? Shouldn't every day be Women's Day? I enjoyed reading this opinion on the day, and here's a quick excerpt:
It’s not my day because I am a woman every day of the year. I don’t want 24 hours to remind the world that I will speak what’s on my mind, make my own decisions and not be objectified, simply because I don’t need to be given what’s mine to begin with anyway;  health and safety, education, equal opportunities and control over my body and life choices.

So here's what I'm doing to celebrate women every day. I have just launched a website for Peace Corps Morocco's Gender and Development Committee. The site has been 3 months in the making, since I joined the committee back in January and felt that there was a need for resources and information to be more accessible to volunteers. The site is intended to help connect volunteers in Morocco and to give them the tools to develop programming throughout the year, for both women and men, to address gender equity issues. Here's a screenshot of the website but please go check it out and tell me what you think! I'll be making lots of changes/additions over the coming months, so if you have any thoughts, please let me know.

I'm also planning a party for women in my community next Saturday. Most of the time in our Youth Center, there's a very small ratio of females to males - probably 10 males to every 1 female. I really want women to feel more comfortable going to the Youth Center and I also want to meet more women in the community, learn about what they like to do, and possibly discuss activities that I could do with them over the next year or two. So I decided to start with a somewhat laid-back activity to get to know each other - a henna party. Girls here seem to love henna and it should (hopefully) create a relaxed atmosphere for just hanging out with each other.  Here's the front of the invitation - my host sister helped me write the words but I typed the Arabic all by myself - I looked like a grandmother at the cyber cafe, staring intensely at the keyboard, typing 1 key every minute or so! But after a long while, it came together. I'll let you know how it goes!

Tomorrow morning, Justin and I are off to Marrakech for a quick touristy trip. You can be sure to expect a new post next week (with lots of photos) on the sights, sounds, and smells that we will encounter. Hope everyone is doing well!

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