Women and citizen media in Maghreb and Mashreq
Marrakech, April 27, 2012
Alternatives International supports two events held simultaneously in Marrakech, Morocco: between April 27 and 29, 2012: the forum of the "Women's March for Equality in the Maghreb-Mashriq Region Towards Democracy and Parity" and the second International Meeting on Alternative Medias.
The conference room are impressive and filled with young people, women, and activists from dozens of organizations across Maghreb and Mashreq. They are involved in thematic issues (women's rights and citizen media) and preparing for the first Maghreb-Mashreq Social Forum that will be held in Tunis in July.
The Alternatives Forum in Morocco (FMAS, Alternatives International Morocco) will take action as the voice of propositions that is its role with regard to state and civil democratization. Their community media program is well developed, with training sessions, debates, international sharing and other activities that constantly involve experts, professionals and other actors from the civil society.
Without a legislative framework to direct it, the FMAS jumped on the occasion, nearly a year ago, to pave the way before any law is passed. "We cannot afford to wait for a law to be enacted: citizen media want to ensure they can work efficiently and offer an alternative to lawmakers," Alternatives Forum in Morocco Council and Alternatives Montréal member Hamouda Soubhi declared. Soubhi is also the founder of the Maghreb and Mashreq civil society portal www.e-joussour.net.
Organizers intend, through the workshops planned over the course of these two days, to establish a common action plan to devise a plea in favour of increased freedom of expression in the region. To this effect the meetings will also be the launching event for e-joussour.net's new version, as it is the sole participatory alternative information portal in Maghreb/Mashreq.
Equal access democracy
In parallel, the same partners organized another symposium on an equally important issue: democratic participation by women in Maghreb and Mashreq. This meeting is part of a broader process leading up to the Maghreb-Mashreq Social Forum, with the support of Alternatives Montreal and a consortium of North American, European and Maghreb/Mashreq NGOs, and funding from the European Union. The goal is to develop and apply strategies to allow organizations and association networks from civil society to participate directly in the defence and promotion of women's right in the broader Maghreb-Mashreq region.
The overall goal is to develop the political participation and representation of women in the region as well as raise and mobilize public awareness so as to strengthen the regional dialogue on fairness and gender equality through optimal use of information and communication technologies. These women wish to finally implant a common platform to reinforce the fight against the discrimination facing women, as stipulated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and encourage adoption of gender perspective in all national public policies.
This will be the 17th event that the Alternatives Forum in Morocco has worked on on its way to the Maghreb-Mashreq Social Forum in next July and the 2013 World Social Forum. Both eents will be held in Tunis, Tunisia.