The consul refuted the idea that Morocco has a chauvinist culture.
Rabat – Speaking to local press, Saloua Bichri, the Moroccan consul in Tarragona, Lleida, and Aragon in Spain, underlined the progress Morocco has made in gender equality.
The consul, who was born in Rabat in 1966, emphasized that fair representation for women is a priority for King Mohammed VI.
“I don’t know how people can think that Morocco is a chauvinist society,” Bichri said in a January 15 interview with Spanish regional newspaper Diari Tarragona. “Women are a priority [in Moroccan society], even for his Majesty the King.”
The consul supported her argument with statistics reflecting Morocco’s developments in gender representation.
“In 2006, the percentage of female parliamentarians was 0.6% and today it is 21%,” she outlined.
“[Representation] has increased a lot. There are female ministers and female ambassadors.”
Bichri added that Spain has only one female ambassador and three female consuls.
The consul, who began her career working in Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained that while Spain is very welcoming to Moroccan migrants, there is a certain level of curiosity.
“I see that many Spaniards are more and more curious about getting to know Morocco.”
“My country is advancing with the rhythm of bigger countries,” she continued. “It is a modern, democratic country.”
Noting the diversity in Tarragona, Lleida, and Aragon, Bichri said there are 107,000 Moroccans among the population. The majority live in Tarragona and 18,000 live in Aragon.
“We have a lot of people who work in the service industry, but also engineers, doctors, artists…” Bichri added, highlighting the role that Moroccan migrants play in the community.
The Moroccan official also addressed the issue of irregular migration, an issue on which Rabat and Madrid regularly collaborate.
“When I first came [to Zarragona], there was a huge number of Moroccan minors who had no passport, no National Identity Card, no anything. There was a backlog.”
“Now we are dealing with this issue much more quickly, there are only 70 who do not have a passport,” she explained. “The majority now have documents.”
The consul added that the impetus for this is coming from Morocco: “Morocco is mobilizing and the speed is satisfactory.”
“These children do not know what is waiting for them here,” Bichri lamented, referring to the Moroccan irregular migrants who risk their lives in the attempt to reach Europe. Many of the young migrants have no idea what life is like outside Morocco and are tricked by films and social media, the consul added.
“Honestly, I don’t understand why they risk their lives to come here,” she concluded.
Bichri is one of 16 Moroccan diplomatic representatives in Spain. In addition to the Moroccan embassy in Madrid, there are diplomatic missions in Barcelona, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, and Malaga, among others.
Morocco and Spain share strong diplomatic ties, collaborating in the fields of security and the fight against irregular migration.