International Women's Day, at least in Tangier, looks more like Women's Week. Today, of course, March 8, is the official day. But things started here on Tuesday, with the Cinémathèque launching a Nadia Kaci film retrospective, then her one-woman show "Ladies In(tro)spection," part of a trilogy involving views of women in Morocco (the woman in the couple), Algeria (woman and work), and Tunisia (woman in politics).
Yesterday, the women of the TALIM/FTAM literacy program were treated to a showing of "Where Do We Go Now?" the latest Nadine Labaki (Caramel) film, a tragi-comedy particularly relevant in a context of social change, with its themes of religious co-existence (or loss thereof), the aftermath of war, and women's ultimate power to drum sense into men's heads.
Today, at the Legation, we hosted two showings (just to get everyone in!) of Mokhtar, Halima Ouardiri's short film which was featured at the Moroccan National Film Festival. Ouardiri, a Montréal-based Swiss-Moroccan film maker with EyeSteelFilm, had wanted to be with us, but her travel schedule didn't permit. Her thought-provoking film, with its portrayal of rural life among the Tashalhit-speaking Berbers of Morocco's Sousse region, shows the enduring power of superstition, no surprise to people who live in isolated regions all over the world.
The idea was to mark International Women's Day with an encounter, around Mokhtar, of the women of our literacy program (many of whom speak Tashalhit, part of the rural exodus to Tangier's medina), with the women of Tanger Accueil, a Francophone group of Moroccan and expatriate women who provide newcomer services and are active in a wide range of charitable activities.
To round it out, we invited several young women from the King Fahd School of Translation, part of Tangier/Tetouan University. They too speak Tashalhit, and helped the group navigate between Berber, Arabic, and French. The discussion was followed by tea and cakes, and the Legation resounded to you-yous when the teachers received presents.
Moroccan radio carried special programming today, and while many of the interviewees lauded the work of women throughout the Maghreb active in the cause of women's rights, many regretted what they saw as a regression in Morocco, with only one woman minister in the new government. Reports from across the region highlighted a common concern: violence against women, ranging from general harassment in public places to physical violence at home.
Our little event – well-attended, by women from widely varying walks of life – was a chance to honor the people, staff and volunteer, who make the women's literacy program possible.