Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dar Si Hmad marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

On the twenty-fifth of November in 1960, three sisters in the Dominican Republic were assassinated under Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorial regime. Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Patria Mirabal were political activists advocating for democracy and civil liberties in a time and place when doing so, especially as a woman, was dangerous. Their deaths from vicious clubbing were made to look like an accident, but the women were seen locally as martyrs and their deaths helped spark Trujillo’s downfall.

Forty-five years later, violence against women, both political and personal, continues. In 1999, the United Nations named 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, honoring the Mirabal sisters and calling attention to the need for work on the issue. The Day is one of marking progress and the problems yet to be solved as highlighted in the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

This year, the United Nations’ UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign is leading sixteen days’ worth of preventive action and media, highlighting the period from 25 November to 10 December (Human Rights Day) with #16days of attention to gender-based violence. For the next few weeks, scholars, activists, policymakers, and communities around the world will unite to work toward a world free from violence against women.

Education is one of this year’s themes. Krishanti Dharmaraj, Global Coordinator of the 16 Days Campaign, said “The political, economic, and social implications of the right to and denial of education must be at the forefront of the agenda for policymakers, communities, and concerned individuals. When we have women, girls, people with disabilities, LGBTQI people, migrants, and indigenous people denied the right to education in safe and equal spaces, we as a world community stand to lose. It is imperative that for gender-based violence to end, we work to end all forms of discrimination.”

Dar Si Hmad is a local organization, both in our staff and our projects. But we recognize that many of the issues we are confronting – including poverty, ecological degradation, women’s empowerment, and cultural barriers – are global concerns that require global solutions. In recognition of the deep connection between local issues and global activism, Dar Si Hmad will launch our own #16days campaign highlighting the ways that local projects in southwest Morocco are making a difference in the lives of women and girls.

Violence against women is a serious concern in Morocco. In 2012, Moroccan teen Amina Filali made international headlines after she committed suicide seven months after being forced to marry her rapist. At the time, Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code contained a loophole effectively protecting a rapist if he marries his victim. Following the local and global outrage after Amina’s suicide, that particular clause was finally repealed in January 2014, but much work remains to be done. Nor is changing the law the only step necessary for protecting women and promoting their rights. Preventing violence against women is about much more than criminalizing rape and ratifying laws. Wider systemic issues of sexism, poverty, and education must be addressed. Preventing violence against women requires empowering them and creating a society in which women are seen and valued as every bit as human as men.

Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting, RISE, E-Learning, Water School, and Ethnographic Field School programs are doing just that, tackling the issues of women’s empowerment in southwest Morocco in creative and local sensitive ways. Over the next sixteen days, we’ll be highlighting various projects happening in the Agadir and Aït Baamrane regions. To start, check out this piece in The Conversation, written by visiting researcher Becca Farnum, that spotlights women’s involvement in our flagship fog harvesting project.

For more information about the #16days campaign, visit http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/end-violence-against-women. To catch all the latest from Dar Si Hmad, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.