Strong participation of local elected women for the renewal of the REFELA-Morocco board on the occasion of March 8 

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, a conference on “Parallel Diplomacy: The Role of Local Elected Women” was held at the Trachen Palace in Rabat (Morocco) on March 17, 2023. Organized by the Moroccan Association of Communal Council Presidents (AMPCC), UCLG Africa, the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) and the Morocco chapter of REFELA, in partnership with the Rabat Communal Council, this event allowed for the renewal of the REFELA-Morocco board.  

The opening ceremony was marked by the presence of:   

Ms. Asmaa Rhlalou, President of the Communal Council of the city of Rabat and Treasurer of UCLG World  

Mr. Abdelwahab El Jabri, Governor in charge of the Cooperation and Documentation Pole at the General Directorate of Local Authorities (DGCT) of the Ministry of Interior of Morocco  

Mr. Mounir Limouri, President of the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Communal Councils (AMPCC) and President of the Communal Council of Tangier  

Mrs. Fatna El Khiel, President of the Moroccan chapter of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA-Morocco) and President of the Communal Council of Arbaoua  

Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa  

Ms. Jacqueline Moustache-Belle, Director of the Gender and Youth Department of UCLG Africa  

The organizers thanked the Kingdom of Morocco for its great support in the creation of REFELA in 2011, in Tangier, and addressed their speeches to the many local elected women who came from different regions of Morocco.  

“As we know, REFELA continues, since its inception, to promote women’s leadership and campaign for gender equality, one of the foundations of the SDGs. Morocco is experiencing increasing development and is heading towards a new era marked by a generalized modernization of society, under the will of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist him. We are witnessing a remarkable process of evolution in the status of Moroccan women, and have listened to the many royal speeches that insist on the need for women to contribute fully in all areas, including in institutions and leadership positions” said Ms. Asmaa Rhlalou, Mayor of Rabat. 

“My sincere congratulations to my sister presidents for the confidence they enjoy from the members of the councils, it is a mission that is more than an honor and it is a responsibility that has grown, which calls for more mobilization to meet the challenges and expectations of residents”, said Ms. Fatna El Khiel, Mayor of Arbaoua, adding that “Morocco, under the enlightened leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, is fully committed to the gender approach in public policy and this demonstrates the positive interactions of all components of society and the maturity of the culture of progress. These choices have enabled many women to occupy decision-making positions and to strengthen their participation in national, continental and international politics.”  

For his part, the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, said: “I am very honored to see how REFELA-Morocco is so alive, so active. I am sure you have been told that there are now more than 31 national chapters, with local elected women all over Africa. I am also sure that you know that this network is unique in the world. It is so well known that your counterparts in Asia and Latin America have asked for help in setting up a REFELA in their continents. You therefore have a duty to set an example, and you are a model, so you cannot fail. Because you are a model, you must inspire, and to inspire, you must be someone who has a sense of efficiency, results and empathy. And I know that African women are really the guardians of empathy and solidarity. I would like to see, in REFELA-Morocco, a model for others. Finally, I wanted to say that you are a reason for pride, but you are also the levers of change on this continent. We always say that this continent will change. This continent will change when women and young people have the place they deserve in the organization and management of society, when they are in positions of responsibility. I am convinced that this is how Africa will emerge standing and proud, as I am proud of you.” 

The conference on “Parallel Diplomacy: The Role of Local Elected Women” was held around two sub-themes. The first one, entitled “Decentralized cooperation, lever of parallel diplomacy” was the subject of a presentation by Mr. Mustapha Ameur, Lead Director of the DGCT (Ministry of Interior), on “The African Support Fund for International Decentralized Cooperation of Territorial Communities (FACDI), incubator for the reinforcement of South-South cooperation” as well as a presentation by Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of Development, Knowledge Management and ALGA of UCLG Africa, on “The African Academy of Local Government (ALGA) of UCLG Africa: a strategic lever to invest in human capital and women’s leadership in African local governments”.  

The second sub-theme, “Women’s leadership and territorial diplomacy”, was an opportunity for Ms. Fatna El Khiel, President of REFELA-Morocco, President of the Municipality of Arbaoua, and Ms. Fatima Razouki, Task Manager in charge of the Secretariat of REFELA, Gender and Youth Department at UCLG Africa, to present the organization and the operating mode of the Network of Local Women Elected Officials of Africa.   

The debate and the questions/answers that followed gave way to numerous interactions that demonstrated the interest of some forty Moroccan local elected women who came from different regions of the Kingdom to take an active part in this important event.  

This day was also marked by the elections for the renewal of the board of REFELA-Morocco. It is the city of Arbaoua, led by Ms. Fatna El Khiel, that was re-elected to the Presidency of the Morocco chapter of REFELA, whose 1st vice-presidency was won by the capital, Rabat, which has at its head Ms. Asmaa Rhlalou.   

Regarding the representation of the Kingdom at the level of REFELA, REFELA-Morocco occupies the vice-presidency for the North Africa Region and is represented by Ms. El Khiel. The substitute city to the vice-presidency for this region is Jaidate, headed by Ms. Fatima Zohra Jaidi. The city of Lagfifate, where Ms. Amina Bouhdoud is mayor, is a member of the REFELA caucus for North Africa, and its substitute city is Youssoufia, which is headed by Ms. Hanane Mabrouk. 

Pictures of the day available here