15-16 March 2019, Atlanta, United States - The International Training Centre for Authorities and Leaders in Atlanta (CIFAL Atlanta) in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco; Université Hassan II de Casablanca; High Atlas Foundation; Casablanca Travel & Tours; Friends of Morocco; Imperial Fez; Kennesaw State University’s Division of Global Affairs hosted the 35th Annual Country Study Program’s International Conference on Gender, Identity and Youth Empowerment.
Annually, this program plays a vital role engaging local and global communities, resulting in new courses and curriculum, research projects, education abroad programs, and global partnerships. The goal of this international conference was to examine ever-changing Moroccan identities with a special focus on the cultural, economic, political and social agency of young women and men.
This year’s international conference featured over 30 presentations from leading scholars, policy-makers, and community leaders from six different countries. Human rights and individual freedoms, empowerment of women and gender equality, and improved access to education for girls and adult education for women, are all enshrined in the current Moroccan constitution and were highlighted during this event.
During the first session of the conference, Ms. Estrella Merlos, from UNITAR, spoke to a room of over 70 participants, including students and faculty representing 5 institutions within the United States of America and Morocco, giving an introduction to the work of UNITAR and the CIFAL Global Network. She expanded upon the “UNITAR Road Safety Training Initiative” and its connection to inclusive, safe, and sustainable cities and access for all—which directly connects to Sustainable Development Goal 11 to improve the affordability and accessibility to sustainable transport for all. Ms. Merlos concluded the first session by stressing that sustainable development “is the responsibility of everyone; saving lives through public awareness and education – to change mindsets.”
Lisa Smith, from CIFAL Atlanta, presented on the impact of colonialism on identities, touching on issues of racial and gender equality within the country. A couple of the other topics that were covered during the conference included: Activism and the Media, Views on Moroccan Women’s Leadership, Language and Language Use, Transcultural Identities, Development and Activism, and the Perspectives of Undergraduate Students.
Through this event, participants were empowered to create partnerships at different levels, including academic, public and private sectors in order to address new and emerging global challenges. As a result, the international conference on Gender, Identity and Youth Empowerment was able to bring awareness to various identities and diversities within the country in addition to promoting dialogue on sustainable development as it relates to Morocco and other countries around the globe.