Changing Women’s Realities in Morocco: Aicha Ech-Channa

On November 9, Georgetown University celebrates the remarkable accomplishments of Aicha Ech-Channa, a Muslim Moroccan woman who has earned wide respect for her advocacy of human and civil rights for single mothers and their children. She is a finalist for the Opus Prize, a one-million dollar faith-based humanitarian award, the winner to be announced November 4.

Having witnessed, as a social worker in Casablanca, sexual violence and the terrible suffering of young, unwed mothers, Mrs. Ech-Channa founded the Association Solidarite Feminine in 1985. Beginning in a basement, the Association helped Moroccan women gain the necessary skills to care for themselves and their children. Today, this ambitious civil society organization provides psychological counseling, job training, daily child care, workshops, and medical treatment for unmarried mothers. Mrs. Ech-Channa has worked for more than five decades to advance women’s rights, pushing for changes to traditional gender roles within Moroccan society.

Aicha Ech-Channa, a gutsy Moroccan woman, has worked for five decades to help young unmarried mothers. They are, from many perspectives, at the bottom of the social heap, condemned as prostitutes even if their pregnancy resulted from rape, thrown out by their families, their babies stigmatized as bastards. Mrs. Ech-Channa formed an organization that welcomes these women, teaches them skills, helps them care for their children, and works to find them jobs. She is a tireless advocate for treating these women with dignity and respecting their rights. She sees her work as inspired by the values of equality, human dignity, and compassion that underpin the Muslim faith. But she would not describe her organization (Association Solidarité Feminine) as faith based. In the early years of her career, her determination to advance women's rights and to empower unmarried mothers clashed forcefully with the established Muslim order. Even today, she and her organization are subjected to critiques and attacks from some Muslim clerics and other Muslim Moroccans. But over time, Morocco's Royal family has personally lent her support, and a new family code (the Mudawana) was enacted after an active and open debate that engaged religious and secular bodies across Moroccan society. It advances women's rights in important areas. Morocco's new family code is noteworthy for its effort to combine positive values and social benefits of religion and tradition with changing norms. Gender roles and relationships are part of a sensitive and complex environment where religion, culture, and politics are woven together. Working from within the society and also taking into account evolving international best practice, traditional ideas about gender roles and family structures are challenged and changing. People like Aicha Ech-Channa are propelling such change in positive and effective ways.

For more information on the Opus Foundation Prize, please click here.

The Berkley Center event, which will include a presentation of Mrs. Ech-Chenna’s work followed by a luncheon, will be hosted by Berkley Center Senior Fellow Katherine Marshall.

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November 9, 2009 | 12:00PM

Copley Formal Lounge

Comments (11)  

a guest
0 #1 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Changing Women’s Realities in Morocco: Aicha Ech-Channa a guest 2009-10-28 00:04
The sad part is that most of us never heard of this woman or the many like her in Morocco. We hear more about the evils of society. I guess good news don't make news.
a guest
0 #2 احيي فيك روح الصبر وقوة التضامن a guest 2009-10-28 10:14
تحية صادقة ومحترمة للسيدة عائشة ايشن على ما قدمته وتقدمه بعد صبر ومتابرة وصدق في العمل نحو اسعاد المعوجزين
عبد الصمد عاطف شاب مغربي رغم جهله الكثير من الامور التي تحيط به لكنه يرد ان يقول شكرا جزيلا ايتها السيدة الفاضلة
Da Hmad
0 #3 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Changing Women’s Realities in Morocco: Aicha Ech-Channa Da Hmad 2009-10-30 11:41
J'ai beacoup de respect et d'admiration pour cette femme. Il n'ya pas beaucoup comme elle dans les pays musulmans et plus particulieremen t arabes.

I love you Aicha, and I thank you for all what you do for our Moroccan sisters.

Hanane ATL
0 #4 Best of luckHanane ATL 2009-11-03 16:31
I wish Mrs Chenna the best of luck.She deserves much respect from all of us.Let's all take her as an idol and be as productive as Aicha.God bless you.
0 #5 the iron ladyharrouchi 2009-11-04 08:06
Mrs Aicha Ech-Channa is the only human and civil rights activist who did helped single mothers and people in need of help when the Moroccan government and some politicians used to consider such issues as taboos. This lady suffered from all kind of harassment just because of her commitment to help these girls that were thrown out by their families; she even managed to convince the families of some single mothers not to throw them out which is really very difficult to achieve in such a society.
I really appreciate her work and I hope she will win the prize because she deserves it.
EL Abdellaoui Wahbi
0 #6 the most deserved tribute to a great moroccan LadyEL Abdellaoui Wahbi 2009-11-05 04:27
i was waiting for this great news for more than a month and can't express my satisfaction seeing

mrs Chenna winning the prestigious Opus prize.a great tribute to all women victims of violence and

cultural old habits. Bravo Madame Chenna,Mabrouk !!!
EL Abdellaoui Wahbi
0 #7 Mabrouk Madame ChennaEL Abdellaoui Wahbi 2009-11-05 04:31
am so happy with this great news,i always appreciate Mrs Chenna and waited more than a month

to see her winner of the prestigious opus Prize.
Mohamed L
0 #8 God Bless!!!Mohamed L 2009-11-06 00:26
This is the face of change we all wanna see in the new Morocco. This is the "9odwa" for all the youth and not so young. Want a change? Want to take the country out of the dark ages into the light, here is how it is done. Thank you Mrs Chenna, Allah yarm7am men rabbak w 9arrak! Thank you for everything you do and your sacrifice. And, of course, Congrats!
Patricia Rachidi
0 #9 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Changing Women’s Realities in Morocco: Aicha Ech-Channa Patricia Rachidi 2009-11-06 14:34
As President of the American International Women's Association of Rabat...which has been serving the Moroccan community now for 47 years with charitable work...I say for all of our members BRAVO!
Patricia Rachidi
0 #10 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Changing Women’s Realities in Morocco: Aicha Ech-Channa Patricia Rachidi 2009-11-06 14:41
As President of the American International Women's Association of Rabat who has been working in the community for 47 years providing funds for women with children, orphans and the homeless, medical supplies for sick children in the hospital and numerous other urgent needs, I want to say BRAVO! We understand how difficult your journey has been and urge you to continue your work which is so needed.
azizi fouzia
0 #11 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Changing Women’s Realities in Morocco: Aicha Ech-Channa azizi fouzia 2010-02-23 18:16
je vous respecte boucoup

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