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This past weekend the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational & Cultural Exchange hosted the Sixteenth Annual Maghrebi Area Studies Symposium for U.S. Fulbright Grantees at the Tour Hassan Hotel in Rabat, Morocco. Fulbright Scholars and Research Grantees presented their experiences and research to-date here in Morocco.
I had the opportunity of closing the program (after a series of food-borne illnesses), and spoke on my proposed research: "Water, Governance, Women, and Empowerment in Morocco's Rural Villages." This research proposal will hopefully give me the opportunity to visit rural communities throughout Morocco in order to gain insight on rural decision-making structures and the roles women have in water and sanitation in rural areas.
Here is an excerpt of the paper I submitted to the Symposium:
The acquisition and sustainable use of potable water does not begin simply by digging a well. Nor does it end with the safe disposal of waste water. In fact, many intricate factors, such as the role women play in water acquisition, affect the delicate cycle of water-use. Women in many rural Moroccan communities are responsible for health, sanitation, and the acquisition and use of water, but are rarely involved in the decision-making structures that create, implement, and govern water resources. The UN’s Human Development Report 2006 states that proper sanitation in water and facilities has lagged behind because men give less of a preference to sanitation than do women, and this neglect is reflected in current development policies (120). If women’s concerns were more valued in the policy process, the prioritization of spending within development policy would change significantly.Over the course of my Fulbright grant, I will conduct research on the decision-making structure at the rural-community level in Morocco and address the adequacy of input women have on policy relating to the acquisition of water and sanitation. I intend to provide a picture of the cycle of water in the rural Moroccan community -- from the well to waste water -- working with the National Office for Potable Water in Morocco (ONEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair, “Water, Women and Decision Power.” Furthermore, I will address various governance and reporting structures, including the national government, non-governmental organizations, and village councils, and evaluate the influence these entities have over water policy and water use. I intend to show that the empowerment of women in village governance is essential to improving not only the efficiency and sustainability of the water-cycle, but also that the effects will move beyond the realm of water and benefit society as a whole.
To view the presentation in its entirety please visit my page on YouTube or subscribe to the Morocco Road podcast.
Over the next couple weeks you will see an ever increasing amount of content on Morocco Road, especially concerning my research here -- and not just the trials and tribulations of life in Morocco.
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A water source in Essaouira, Morocco.
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