International Women’s Day – All the Days After

Slide1 They were handing out red roses to (some) women at Tangier's Ibn Battuta Airport on International Women's Day.  Nice gesture.

Just like some organizations – websites, news media, governments, private industry – mark the day, until they get to the next de rigueur event, like Earth Day.  Points on the calendar.  Check.

What happens the day(s) after International Women's Day?  Back to the grind.  Wait 364 days for your next red rose.

Here at TALIM, where every working day may not be Women's Day, but where the women of the medina do come to learn to read and write in Arabic and learn other language and life skills, International Women's Day was not uppermost on people's minds.  Do our women follow the lives of Yahoo Maktoub's Top Arab Women Role Models?

At recent gatherings with the women, where guest lecturers on things from public health to family law speak to a riveted audience, one of the most heartfelt opinions voiced by the women was the lack of security in the medina.

Think of it: these women, mostly working mothers or mothers of at-risk children (at risk of falling into the hands of the drug dealers, prostitutes, and the violence inherent in these activities) have to navigate the mean streets without any hope of police protection.

Street lighting has helped, though we'll always remember our first foray at night on a momentarily dark medina street, when the way was lit by an elderly veiled woman and her flashlight.

The women's concerns are our concerns.  At every occasion possible, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we underline our security concerns to police and local authorities.  In the latest exchange with a police official, explaining why his patrols never pass by the Legation's Beni Idder quarter of the medina, he reminded me that we live in a dangerous neighborhood.

The police stay away because it's dangerous?

So, on the 364 days that are definitely not International Women's Day, we stand with our courageous neighbors and try to boost security in our own ways.  Street lights, flashlights, bells, whistles, and anything else that will help foster better street security.

Meanwhile, the Legation offers them a safe haven to learn useful skills.

Gerald Loftus

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