Friday, October 19, 2012

Feeling inspired

Just came back from an inspiring few days! This week, I attended the quarterly meetings of Peace Corps Morocco's Gender and Development Committee (GAD), which helps to provide support, encouragement, and resources for Peace Corps Volunteers in conducting activities around gender roles and empowerment. (You can read some older GAD-related posts here.)

In each GAD meeting, we review activities in the country and plan new initiatives for the coming months, but for me the real highlight of the meetings are our invited speakers. We are constantly trying to reach out to individuals and organizations in Morocco who, like us, seek to build awareness of and respond to gender issues in the country. We have spoken with professors, students, movement leaders, and association members, all of whom share our passion for working towards gender equality in Morocco.

The speaker for this meeting was the dynamic, driven, inspiring Majdoline Lyazidi, the 21-year-old founder of SlutWalk Morocco. If you haven't heard of the SlutWalk protest marches - they started in Toronto in April 2011 as a movement against excusing rape by referring to a woman's appearance - and have since grown into a global movement. For Majdoline, the movement in Morocco is about raising awareness of sexual harassment in Moroccan society. The group is no longer called SlutWalk - they chose to adjust the name to one that ties closer to Moroccan culture, beliefs, and language - but they continue to do amazing work in the fight against gender-based forms of violence and the way that women are treated in society.

I hope that you've been inspired by her, too! With that, I will leave you with a few quotes from Majdouline:

 "The message is very clear: Stand up for yourselves
and demand respect, shame has to switch sides."

And, in response to a question about the best advice received since beginning her journey (I love this):

"It's a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that I go by: 
'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.' "

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