ISIS Center For Women and Development

Fatima Sadiqi

President of Isis Center for Women and Development, Fès

Under His Majesty the king Royal Patronage, ISIS Center for Women and Development and Konrad Adenauer Foundation organized the 8th edition of the Mediterranean Women Forum on the theme “Women’s Voices in the Mediterranean and Africa: Movements, Feminisms, and Resistance to Extremisms” on May 5, 6, and 7-10, 2017 at les Mérinides Hotel, Fès, Morocco. This event is organized in partnership with Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University and Penn State University (USA). The main aim of the conference is to fight radicalization and extremism, build-up peace initiatives, protect women’s rights, and enhance women’s empowerment.

An increasing number of women’s voices in the Mediterranean and Africa is rising against mounting gender-based violence in the name of radical Islam and the instrumentalization of religion to exacerbate Islamophobia and attain power. These voices range from academics, to activists, and policy-makers, and suggest new ways of looking at the concepts of Mediterranean and African “women’s rights”, “Islamic feminisms”, Muslim African feminisms, and “resistance, as well as exploring theoretical and methodological tools. Trough feminist discourses, activisms, and movements, the voices are denouncing biases, asking for justice, reclaiming rights in public spaces, and reconciling older and newer generations of feminists in the Mediterranean and Africa.

In retrospective, women in the Mediterranean and Africa have always been sensitive to radicalized discourses as they are often used as scapegoats in such discourses. Although the two regions are seen as distinct spaces, women in them are increasingly facing the same ordeal. The Forum was multi-disciplinary and sought to develop innovative and insightful ways of unpacking and accounting for these resistances.

The themes and topics discussed at this international forum include:

The Contextualisation of Extremisms and Women’s Resistances
Radicalized Ideologies in the Maghrib
Radicalized Ideologies in Africa
Islam and feminism/Islamic Feminisms – Strategies of Resistance
Here are the final recommendations made by the participants at the closing session of the forum :

Strengthen and support the values common to all religions.
To establish dialogue and solidarity among women in the Mediterranean, in Africa and in the world as a defense against the rise of all extremism.
Reinforce gender equality by strengthening social integration.
Reforming school textbooks to encourage the values of peace, living together and respect for difference
Consolidate the democratic culture and values of freedom and strengthen cooperation between Mediterranean and African countries in order to achieve global and sustainable development.
Support scientific research and field studies aimed at identifying the real reasons behind the growing attraction of women to extremism.
Consolidate networking and civil society associations to empower their capacities and skills in using alternative media to work with fragile groups of society.
Adopt a participatory approach with women in the belief that they are able to play an effective role in reducing extremism.
Design development programs for women within their communities in order to accelerate their integration into sustainable projects.
) Explore the polyvocal Discourses of Islamic Feminism.