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The League team has just returned from El Jadida, Morocco, site of the first preparatory meeting of the 9th Forum for the Future. The two-day session focused on empowering women, however, not all 76 attendees were women. In fact, a good percentage of the participants were men who work on economic, legal, and social issues that impact women’s lives. Twenty countries were represented by members of civil society organizations, including one representative from the West Bank/Gaza area.
There were many interesting experiences throughout the two-day meeting. For me, the trip was also a reunion of sorts, as I had previously worked with several of the participants from Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. For example, one of the participants was I woman I met last year during my visit to Cairo as an invitee of the the U.S. Embassy; and a young woman from Libya, who visited the League’s office in Washington, DC, as a part of a large delegation of young MENA leaders sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and most recently a woman who is currently the Vice President of the Ligue des Electrices Tunnisiennes, a league-like organization created in Tunisia with technical assistance from my office.
In accordance with tradition, there was one opening plenary session, headed by U.S. Ambassador Samuel Kaplan, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer, and Somaia Benkhaldoun, representing the Kingdom of Morocco. Hakima El Haité, a dynamic Moroccan business woman and a fighter for women’s issues, represented civil society.
The League team stayed on for two additional days to carry out a National Advocacy Workshop for Moroccan nongovernmental organizations led by League of Women Voters Board member, Dr. Toni Larson. The organizations experience with advocacy varied, with some having more advanced understanding of the nuances of advocacy, but all participants were eager to learn new techniques for more effective advocacy.
There is not enough time for the League team to sit back and remember the excellent experience in El Jadida since we are already packing our bags and preparing documents for our upcoming meeting in Amman, Jordan October 1-2, 2012.