The Diplomatic Foundation in Rabat highlighted the accomplishments of women, locally and internationally.
By Rahma Ouled Cherif
Rabat – The Diplomatic Foundation in Rabat hosted an event on March 6 to honor the women ambassadors to Morocco, 12 of whom attended the event.
By noon, the first of the 150 attendees began arriving slowly at Rabat’s Sofitel Hotel. Each of the twelve women ambassadors arrived dressed in casual clothes to emerge later in traditional Moroccan caftans, an homage to Moroccan women’s fashion just two days before International Women’s Day.
More than 30 ambassadors responded to the foundation’s invitation to take part in the event. In a hall with brightly-lit chandeliers creating a lighthearted and welcoming atmosphere, attendees interacted with each other in whatever common language they shared, from Japanese and English to French and Bulgarian.
The two-hour event began with a 30-minute ceremony in which the Diplomatic Foundation’s executive chairman, Abdelati Habek, presented Moroccan caftans to ambassadors, who traded in their usual clothes to be attired in caftans in tribute to all Moroccan women.
Bulgarian Ambassador Briana Simeonova told Morocco World News: “This is the third time that I participate in such an event, and I am proudly wearing this caftan because it was made by the hand of Moroccan craftswomen, and it’s an art.”
Moroccan Secretary of State for Sustainable Development Nezha El Ouafi agreed. Asked about the importance of Moroccan caftans, she answered, “The Moroccan caftan highlights the rich Moroccan history because it represent a culture beyond the borders.”
And, she suggested, caftans’ importance go beyond their beautiful design. El Ouafi stated, “Craftsmanship is a wide and creative sector that contributes to an economic growth and provides a big portion of the Moroccan people with the opportunity to maintain the Moroccan heritage.”
But the event was also about more than just caftans. During the ceremony, Moroccan Secretary of State to the Minister of Tourism, Air Transport, Crafts, Social Economy, Handicrafts, and Social Economy Jamila El Moussali told MWN, “This occasion gives Morocco the opportunity to develop our strategies.”
El Moussali cited a World Bank report, saying, “Morocco ranks the first in terms of women’s rights in the MENA region. For us, these achievements give a sense of pride. And we are looking forward to more initiatives that will provide help to the Moroccan woman.”
In the second part of the ceremony, Habek formally opened the event by taking a picture with some of distinguished women present, capturing their solidarity despite their different nationalities.
Before giving the floor to the women ambassadors, Habek announced, “We are here to pay tribute to all women, regardless of their status and conditions: Housewives, single mothers, workers, military, police, fighters, pilots of airliners, ministers, heads of government, or heads of state.”
Most of the women ambassadors took the floor to paint a picture of the progress women have achieved in their respective countries, while paying tribute to women’s rights efforts in Morocco.
The women ambassadors congratulated Morocco for its women’s rights achievements and praised King Mohammed VI for being an advocate of women’s rights.
Jamila El Moussali took the stage first, noting the importance of Moroccan caftans, which have been “transformed into an ambassador of the Moroccan culture.”
El Moussali continued, “Honoring Moroccan caftans is honoring female artisans.” Women’s day, she said, “honors the contributions that women make in every sector.”
Presenting the situation in Europe, Ambassador Simeonova dwelt on the situation of women Bulgaria.
According to the ambassador, almost 50 percent of Bulgarian judges are women, the country’s vice president is a woman, and “their presence changed governance, social management and led to reasonable compromises.”
Argentine Ambassador Gloria Young spoke of the importance of feminism. “The empowerment that women have achieved throughout the years,” she argued, is the result of “the feminist movements that pushed the government to push the agenda.”
Young spoke of women’s participation in Latin America, saying, “Women’s participation in political affairs is still low, women make up only 70 percent of the university population in Panama.” But, she stated, Women’s Day is an opportunity for women and generations to come together to achieve equality.
Along with the secretaries of state, multiple high-ranking Moroccans attended the event: the wife of the head of government, Madame El Othmani; the general secretary of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU), Nabila Mounib; and the minister of solidarity, women, family, and social development, Bassima Hakkaoui.