By Samira Athmani
Casablanca – In 1947, the late Princess Lalla Aicha stood on the podium dressed in a L’Enfant blue silky gown without a veil on her face, as it was the norm back then. She delivered an important speech after her father, late Mohammed V delivered his famous speech in Tangier where he announced that Morocco was part of the Arab nation and the Islamic world.
Princess Lalla Aisha was 17 at the time. She incited Moroccan women in her speech to take part in the political sphere and fight for their freedom alongside with man. She was the very first princess to give a speech on women’s liberation in Morocco.
Moroccan women did not go beyond the threshold of their household and would never go out without a man or without covering their face or wear “lHayek,” (the traditional white cloth that covers women from head to toe except for eyes, while in some areas of Morocco women show only one eye).
In an interview with “Times magazine” in 1957, Princess Lalla Aisha’s picture honored the front page. “I was so nervous… I did not understand what I was talking about. I was asked to give a speech which I did. After the speech, I was able to understand what was going on in Morocco back then… I was free… I knew what was about to happen,” she was quoted on the magazine as saying.
Since the Tangiers’ speech, Princess Lalla Aisha accompanied her father in his inaugurations of public schools around the country and her name became associated with women’s emancipation. For this reason many schools were named after her.
She was very intelligent according to her teachers and colleagues. She obtained her baccalaureate degree and she spoke many languages.
In 1953, King Mohammed V was exiled and the princess Aisha could not pursue her higher education. After she returned from exile, she occupied very important roles in the post -independence Moroccan diplomacy, and she participated in national and international meetings. On April 21st 1957, she was appointed head of “national cooperation” institute.
In March 1965, her brother, Prince Hassan II at the time, appointed her as an ambassador of Morocco to the United Kingdom. She was the first female ambassador in the Arab world. She had a very close friendship with Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s sister).
The Moroccan princess maintained her position as an ambassador until December 1968. in 1969 she was appointed Morocco’s Ambassador to Roma.
Originally published in Al-Massae. Translated by Mona Badri
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