“Much progress, and much to be done.” the one and only- Lisa Margo Levine
It is a wild to think that after only a 6 hour bus ride, I found myself in a new continent, new country, and completely new colorful, captivating, culture.
We were only in Morocco for the weekend, so it was a very short amount of time to truly understand the culture, but here are a few of my initial thoughts. The first thing I noticed was the extremely high ratio of men to women. It was something like 75: 25 for the people I came into contact with. It could have been more or less but it was enough for me to notice something was very different. The whole weekend seemed to be run by men, hotel workers and shopkeepers, tour guides, servers at the restaurant, people helping us onto the camels, showing us silk blankets and explaining natural medicines…all men. Occasionally you see a woman in the street selling her fruit and vegetables but that is about it.
Another difference was the few women who were out in the streets were covered up completely, usually in a traditional piece of clothing called a djellaba, a long dress with sleeves and a hood. A few men in the streets were wearing djellabas but there were also a lot of men in shorts and t-shirts as it was a beautiful day at least in the 70’s. It seemed so out of the norm for women not to be completely covered that I even got a few stares by having just my ankles showing.
Before going to Morocco I knew that praying was a big part of the Arab culture and as the guide explained people are summoned, by bells, to the mosques 5 times a day and if you are working, like our guide for example, you can go at a different time or pray on your own time. But he also explained how although men and women can pray in the same mosque they are not allowed to pray next to each other.
As we were walking around to different shops and seeing how every single vendor was a man, I began to wonder where the women were and what they were doing. In one shop I asked the vendor if he was the one who made the scarves. He laughed and responded, “No, women in factories do that”. That was really hard for me to hear because yes, as a global society I think a lot of progress has been made over this issue of gender inequality but as I could see this weekend, there is still work to be done.
Growing up in the States I have always experienced and understood that men and women are equal. We have equal opportunities for jobs, to vote, to get an education, and how to dress; the list goes on and on but in Morocco I felt a different vibe.
Experiencing a culture that is completely different from my own is not only important because it helps me create an understanding for people of all backgrounds but it also is helpful in creating an appreciation for my own culture.
There are positives and negatives in every culture, but I think it's important to create an accepting society that is as well-rounded as the sphere of the planet on which we live.
Ciao for now!