By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, March 14, 2012
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Al-bab association organized a meeting at the Agdal Cultural Compound with Ms. Jamila Moussali, PJD MP and author of the book “History of Moroccan Feminist Movements in Modern Morocco”. Ms. Moussali addressed the genesis of major feminist movements in Morocco. She highlighted the work of the “Safa Sisters”, a pioneering feminist movement that emerged in the 1940’s. This group tackled a host of ethical issues relating to women’s social life and issued numerous recommendations to curb all forms of abuse against women, especially sexual harassment and domestic violence.
As socialism gained momentum in Europe and in Arab countries, the feminist movement in Morocco embraced socialist dogma. As a result, the Moroccan leftist movement was born and became inspired and empowered by international socialist philosophy. Simultaneously, the Islamic revival movement, commonly known as the “Sahwa”, gained strength in many countries of the Arab world. This development propelled the Islamic feminist movement, an extension of the larger Islamic revival, to the forefront of the socio-political scene. The movement’s main objective was to offer an empowering philosophy that addressed gender issues from an Islamic perspective.
Ms. Moussali expressed her indignation at United Nations institutions for refusing to accept the term Islamic feminism. She argued that Islamic feminism provides Muslim women with a pragmatic position that balances religious values with life’s requirements. Ms. Mousali considered the new dynamics in Moroccan civil society as very promising. For instance, the number of women’s rights NGOs has increased due to the relaxation of the procedures for their legal formation. Moreover, feminist associations constitute a powerful lobby group that is exercising greater influence on decision makers and partaking in national debates over gender issues.
Ms. Mousali urged participants to engage in debates and intellectual discussions regarding women’s status in society, especially on labor division. This issue is very important because the complexity of modern life often makes it difficult for women to assume professional responsibilities while fulfilling their family commitments. Ms. Mousali criticized the concept of “gender equality” arguing that males and females have different physical attributes and could never be similar. Ms. Mousali prefers a shifting international paradigm that sees equality as “based on dignity and equity”. This world view lays the groundwork for a novel approach to gender rights, with deference to male and female needs that are in total harmony with their respective nature.