28th outing for the Echoes of Women’s Voices mobile studio

December 13, 2019

With 20,000 kilometres on the odometer racked up over 28 outings, plus hours of interviews broadcast on Kech Radio, the AIC's journey continues into Marrakech-Safi to meet women in the region.

The loudspeaker at Sidi Mansour mosque booms out: "Good news for the women, an organisation has arrived at the douar". This announcement comes as a surprise to the AIC teams as it marks the first time a mosque has announced their arrival into a village.
"It's special,"
smiles Cheima, the project's Production Manager. For the event, the men in this village also set up the khouzana, a traditional tent, due to a lack of a permanent meeting place in the village that is accessible via a trail.

On Saturday, December 7, 2019, five members of the AIC came to present the Echoes of women's voices. Kamal is on sound, Cheima is responsible for programming, Hafida provides information about rights, Fatima leads the discussion-based workshop and Azeddine is in charge of coordinating and running the mobile studio. They have all developed very strong bonds during their travels over the past nine months, spent creating radio programmes.

Thirteen women aged between 19 and 60 are sat in the tent in Sidi Mansour. The project's first achievement is getting these women to leave the private bubble of their own homes and successfully bringing them together.

Hafida begins today's event by telling the women what rights they have. The Amazigh contributor, who is heavily involved in the project, explains how to register in the civil register because some children are unregistered and how to get a marriage recognised. Cheima acknowledges that "Often, they are not even aware that they can be registered in the civil register. They don't know the laws or their own status. We use very simple words so that everyone can understand us".

After informing the women about their rights, it's time for the thematic workshop. Today's topic is: “I'm 60 and I would also like to go back to school!"girls dropping out of school. A woman instantly calls out to Fatima, who leads the workshop.

In Sidi Mansour, school transport only passes by at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. So a girl will be encouraged to stay at home if she only has one class during the whole day at 2 p.m. A young woman shares her experiences. Despite gaining the equivalent of her A levels, she could not get a room at university in Marrakech and was forced to abandon her higher education.

The team sometimes travels for miles along trails to reach marginalised villages. Some locals even prefer to keep schtum about how challenging it is to reach their village so that the team does not get discouraged. Extraordinary women are often there to meet them when they arrive.
The AIC members met an inspiring woman up in the High Atlas mountains. 24-year old Kelthoum overcame all the odds to become the first woman from her douar to go to school. Azeddine lauds her as "a warrior". Kelthoum has been identified as one of the female leaders who will be invited to the final seminar taking place in Marrakech in spring 2020.

The trustful environment created by the team for the women is reflected in the intimacy of the mobile studio – a cocoon where "they speak without taboos," explains Cheima. As the meetings progress, the team realises how much the women want to be active. They are particularly interested in creating cooperatives and projects.
All with a goal of gaining financial independence, something that Simone de Beauvoir would have approved of.