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Celebrating Women, beyond March 8th

March 8th of every year is a globally recognized day for the celebration of women’s rights. That day, every society, community or institution chooses a myriad of ways to honor the women in its midst: flowers, goodies, thank you notes and the like.
As an issue, gender equality has come a long way, to say the least. At a global level, the image of women has considerably evolved from citizens merely exercising their rights to active leadership in the public sphere. Today, women are core cornerstones of decision-making in the public and private sectors.
But to say that gender parity anywhere has been fully realized would be a fallacy. On one hand, the so-called “glass ceiling” prevents even the most qualified women from attaining leadership positions that men find easy to reach. Such implicit, perceptual inequalities are still fueled by a range of stereotypes and assumptions regarding women’s character. On the other hand, the progress of female empowerment is not equally distributed across the globe.
Our continent Africa is unfortunately part of those world areas moving ahead, but slowly. UNESCO estimates that no more than 40% of African girls finish secondary education. For those who attain high school, only 47% get out with a degree – making Africa the one continent where women’s graduation rates lag behind men’s.
In Morocco, structural reforms like the Moudawana (family code) have disrupted decades-long discriminations against half of our country’s citizens, unleashing their potential to achieve autonomy. Yet there is much work to do especially in rural communities, where school dropout is a pressing issue for young girls.
As an African and Moroccan institution, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) stands at the crossroads of these global, regional and national issues of gender parity. Ours is a community that can thankfully not only afford to nurture women’s leadership, but give the example at multiple layers.
In less than 5 years, UM6P reached a 54% female student population rate. This in science & technology study fields known for being the exclusive purview of men.
Thanks to the involvement of a committed community, UM6P is also home to a wide safe space where issues of discrimination, gender bias and harassment can be openly discussed and dealt with. The success of campaigns such as Say No to Violence has shown that hand in hand, we can all make the next leap towards a society respectful of its members no matter their gender.
Thanks to countless sacrifices, the hard-earned place of women in contemporary societies is in many ways a fait accompli. In 2022 of all years, the time has maybe come to pay tribute to the women amongst us all year long, and not only on March 8th. Through bold initiatives promoting awareness, empowerment, respect and solidarity, care for gender equality can be established once and for all in our communities. Today, tomorrow, and every day.