This morning, Moroccan women religious counselors visiting the US shared personal experiences and perspectives with American Muslim and Jewish women leaders at an interfaith forum in Washington, DC, to discuss how advancing women's rights is building stronger families and safer communities, across continents and around the world.
"In Islam, women have always served a vital and multi-faceted role," said Ilham Chafik, a visiting mourchidate and PhD in Arabic Linguistics, who coordinates outreach programs for the blind in Rabat/Sale, Morocco. "The mourchidate program in Morocco institutionalizes the role that women have always played, by inviting, training, and recognizing women as leaders in our communities responsible for providing spiritual support as well as health and wellness assistance."
The interfaith breakfast panel discussion was organized by the Moroccan American Cultural Center (MACC) to highlight Morocco's mourchidate initiative, begun in 2006, to elevate the status of women and promote religious tolerance by training and certifying female religious counselors to work alongside imams (traditional male religious leaders in Islam) in the 40,000+ mosques in Morocco.
The lively panel discussion noted the significant progress already made and challenges still facing communities in Morocco, the US, and the Arab/Muslim world. Among the panelists were Loribeth Weinstein, Executive Director of Jewish Women International, a leading Jewish organization empowering women and promoting healthy families, and Salma Abugideiri, Co-Director of The Peaceful Families Project, an organization devoted to ending domestic violence in Muslim families by facilitating awareness workshops for Muslim leaders and communities.