By Leila Hanafi
By Leila Hanafi
Morocco World News
New York, July4, 2012
In a stimulating and action-oriented atmosphere, over 90 prominent Moroccan-American community activists and leaders throughout the US from such diverse disciplines as education, engineering, human rights, law, environment, business and finance convened on June 23, 2012 at the Preparatory Meeting of American-Moroccan Competencies Network Forum in New York.
With the convergence of an unparalleled number of Moroccan-American leaders, the Forum represented an unprecedented opportunity to encourage dialogue with senior representatives from Moroccan Government agencies, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Washington DC, and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Morocco in New York; incubate development project proposals for Morocco amidst the transformational changes engulfing the country; and develop the cross-fertilization of ideas to reinforce national development, namely through the prism of human, economic, and technology sectors.
As a Moroccan-American lawyer and co-Founder of the American-Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network (AMLEN), I had the privilege to serve as the Co-Chair of the Human Development Working Session along with community leader, Nadia Serhani of Morocco Foundation and AMLEN.
What is Human Development?
According to the United Nations Arab Human Development report analysis, human development is development of the people, development for the people, and development by the people. Development of the people involves building human capabilities through the development of human resources. Development for the people implies that the benefits of growth must be translated into the lives of people, and development by the people emphasizes that must be able to participate actively in influencing the processes that shape their lives.
Overview of Human Development Working Session
Morocco’s low ranking on the United Nations Development (UNDP) Program Human Development Index in 2003 (124th position) came as a wake-up call to many in the country. As a result, social and human development catapulted to the center of the Government’s development agenda. Today, the advances Morocco has achieved since the millennium, have contributed largely to improving many human development indicators. For example, Morocco’s Human Development Initiative is unquestionably a landmark in Morocco’s recent human and social development history, as it gives top political priority to people’s living conditions (especially youth and women) and their access to basic social infrastructure and services.
In the 2011 Global Human Development Report released by UNDP, Morocco ranks 130 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index. The report put a special emphasis on women’s equality in Morocco and improving women’s rights as a central step to achieving nearly all of the Millennium Development Goals. However, despite these and other advances, development is a continuous unending process, where the social and human development, especially among young people remains a vital and core component to its success and sustainability. That speaks to the relevance of the Human Development session and the potential contributions that we could provide as Moroccan-American community leaders.
Workshop discussions fell under the broad theme of human development given the country’s growing concern with this issue. The workshop discussions explored the capacious conception of human development in legal, political, social, economic, and cultural contexts related to the notions of ‘rights’ and ‘development’ for all people, especially disadvantaged groups. Human development project concept notes were presented during the workshop by organizations such as Morocco Foundation; Moroccan American House; AMLEN; New Star Family Center; AUTISM Speaks Organization.
There was a general consensus that despite progress on women’s rights, more can be done. The welfare of society relies increasingly on a country’s quality of human resources, and women remain a largely untapped resource. Therefore, gender issues need to be viewed as central in policy design and implementation.
Tackling this deficit is a pre-requisite for moving forward. Government action alone is generally not enough to advance human development. With a collaborative commitment by all stakeholders in Morocco and the diaspora in the US, we can bring innovative ideas and broaden the range of human development services especially the women and youth.
A follow-up Conference to debate the project concept notes presented at the Preparatory Forum, is scheduled “tentatively” for Spring 2013.
 The global development framework adopted by the United Nations in 2000 for improving people’s lives and combating poverty in a sustained and sustainable way by 2015.