High school is a confusing and stressful time for everyone. But for rural Moroccan girls, it is particularly so. They are relatively lucky to not be pulled out of school during elementary or middle school to help out at home, as becoming good homemakers is generally considered to be the most important contribution they can make to society. There is little incentive for families to invest in an education for their daughter which will, once she is married, merely accrue to the benefit of her husband’s family. Families who sacrifice to keep their daughters in school are taking a risk, and these girls feel significant pressure to succeed. But once they do succeed in school, and many do, they find to their disillusionment that the social and cultural pressure to forgo what few professional opportunities there are in order to become homemakers is often insurmountable. So despite heroic efforts to overcome their circumstances, they are right back where they started and find marriage and domesticity to be the only acceptable option.
As a Women’s Empowerment Agent in the Peace Corps in Morocco, I am working to give women the tools to free themselves from the societal and cultural norms which restrict self-actualization. This spring, three colleagues and I are collaborating with El Khir, a women’s association in the city of Essaouira, to plan a Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) Camp. Forty girls from high schools around the region will come to Essaouira for five days of intensive exploration of their moral worth as people and as women, their own belief in their power to determine their values and make their own choices, and ways that they can contribute meaningfully to the world around them. We will conduct sessions, lead activities and host guest speakers all with the goal of expanding the girls’ capacity to imagine and create healthy self-directed lives, challenging them to seek greater meaning in their lives beyond domestic duties and equipping them with concrete skills to be effective leaders in their communities. Which in the developing country of Morocco today is more needed than ever before.
In addition to the community contribution, it will cost us $4000 – or about $20 per girl per day – to implement this camp. If you are passionate about fighting for gender equality and eradicating oppression of women, nowhere can you do more good than in the developing Muslim world. Even a donation of $5 dollars will go far in enabling us to offer a girl a desperately needed glimmer of hope. Please help us make a difference in these girls’ lives so they can make a difference in their world. Click here to donate. https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-378-024. Thank you!