Over time, societies undergo changes in their structures and their roles. In recent years, changes in societies all over the world have illuminated new roles that contemporary life provides for women, as well as their rights and freedoms to explore the various fields that were exclusive to men in the past. However, women are still struggling for more legal, social, political and economic gains through the battle of self-determination and dignity, equality and equity through movements and organizations in both the East and the West.
Now is as important a time as ever to be aware of these changes in women's movements and women empowerment, and many of the students at Qalam are excited to share their opinions and talents to work towards these goals.
Recently, student Vanessa gave an impressive Arabic-language presentation about the situation of women in Italy. In her speech, she explained that years ago, women in Italy were not allowed to work and were not considered equals in Italian society. Italian women also were subject to serious objectification by men in their daily lives. Over time, various associations and civil society in general started initiatives to help women to become more independent, and now, as Vanessa explained, the situation is much improved.
Check out Vanessa's full presentation in Arabic below!
Similarly, Qalam has hosted many riveting discussions about women's rights in the past few months. Each week at the Arabic Language Cafe, Arabic students from all over the world meet to practice Arabic through one discussion topic with native speakers here in Rabat. The public is invited to join the Cafe, and it is a good opportunity for everyone to practice their Arabic language skills and make new friends from all over the world. The Language Cafe often corresponds with a guest lecture and discussion of the same topic that week.
Just last week, the topic discussed was the role of civil society in reducing violence against women and children. Majdoulin Emmahibi, a professor at Mohammed V University here in Rabat, gave a guest lecture about types of violence and gender-based violence, the causes for these types of violence, and ways in which governments and organizations can work to prevent these types of violence. During the discussion session after the lecture, the students focused their attention on these types of prevention efforts here in Morocco.
The next day at the Arabic Language Cafe, students and guests discussed the same topic. Everyone agreed there are many forms of violence against women and children: physical violence, verbal abuse, sexual violence, etc. Students and their discussion groups furthermore agreed that, despite the lack of media attention and sensitization awareness, civil society plays an important role in the elimination of these types of violence. Lastly, the Language Cafe guests concluded that violence against women is a result of a male-dominated society, as well as the imbalance of power between men and women and women's subsequent subordination to men.
One of the most important points iterated and reiterated during this discussion goes hand in hand with what Vanessa also concluded in her presentation - women's lack of independence leads to an imbalance in the power between men and women. This imbalance has various consequences that can range from problems in the past - like access to working conditions - to problems society struggles with today - like domestic violence.
In fact, this idea of independence is so important that another Qalam student, Laura, has begun working with an association here in Rabat to help empower women to have more independence by learning trade skills.
Stay tuned for more updates about Laura's project, and other events that allow students to use their Arabic language skills to discuss their interests!