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The US President’s wife praises the leadership of the King of Morocco in empowering women and youth

The US First Lady, Jill Biden, praised the leadership of Moroccan King Mohammed VI in empowering women and youth. And she explained, in a statement published by the White House Sunday in Washington, that Morocco is working under the leadership of King Mohammed VI “to encourage reforms aimed at empowering women and youth, which embodies our common priorities.”

She expressed the United States’ gratitude for its “long-standing partnership and friendship with Morocco.” She also commended Biden for the “good reception” that Princess Lalla Hasnaa gave her, upon her arrival Saturday afternoon in Marrakesh.

Jill Biden added that Princess Lalla Hasnaa “informed me of the work she is doing to educate children and youth about the importance of protecting the environment,” noting that “Princess Lalla Hasnaa’s passion was a source of inspiration for me.” She said, “I would like to publish her story upon my return to the United States, as part of the efforts aimed at valuing opportunities for mutual learning, because our world is linked in many fields, and because common values ​​are the basis on which building the future must be built.”

The First Lady of the United States expressed her “sincere thanks to King Mohammed VI for the reception I received during my visit to Morocco, one of the oldest friendly countries” of the United States. And she wrote in a tweet on Sunday, addressed to the king: “Thank you for the warm welcome in Morocco,” and attached it to the expression “thank you very much” in the Moroccan dialect (thank you very much). “It is a great honor for me to visit one of America’s oldest friends,” she added.

Biden was accompanied during this visit by her daughter, Ashley Biden, and her sister, Bobby Jacobs. Her visit is part of a tour to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, with the aim of promoting the improvement of the conditions of women and youth around the world, especially with regard to education, health and empowerment.

Jill Biden, the wife of the US President, upon her reception at the headquarters of the “Nakhil Association” in Marrakesh (Facebook)

Mrs. Biden’s visit to Morocco is the second after her first visit in November 2014, during which she accompanied President Joe Biden, who was then Vice President under the Barack Obama administration, during his participation in the fifth session of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which was held in Marrakesh.

On Sunday, in Marrakech, Mrs. Biden visited the headquarters of the “Al-Nakhil Association for Women and Children” to learn about its programs aimed at providing assistance to women and girls in difficult circumstances.

Upon her arrival at the association’s headquarters, Mrs. Biden was greeted by the head of the “Palm for Women and Child” Association, Zakia Al-Marini, the US ambassador to Morocco, Bonit Talwar, his wife, Star Sarsh, and the US Consul General in Casablanca, Lawrence Randolph.

Mrs. Biden toured the various facilities of this structure, which benefited from USAID program funding.

She gave Mrs. Biden explanations about the role and tasks of this association, with a focus on the various activities organized by the “Al Nakheel Association for Women and Children.” In a speech on the occasion, Mrs. Biden praised the “old-standing partnership and friendship” relations that have been forged with the Kingdom of Morocco, stressing that the Kingdom has always encouraged reforms aimed at empowering women and youth, “embodying our common priorities.”

Jill Biden wanders the old alleys of Marrakesh (Facebook)

On the same occasion, Mrs. Biden met women among the beneficiaries of the various vocational training programs provided by the “Al-Nakheel” Association, and visited a space to display some of these women’s products, especially cosmetic products, embroidery and sewing products. These women gave Mrs. Biden a traditional dress, before taking a souvenir photo with them.

The Nakheel Association, founded by Zakia Al-Marini in 1997, is a non-governmental organization whose tasks are, in particular, to defend women’s rights through a listening center directed at combating gender-based violence, and the vocational training of women in a situation of vulnerability. In 1998, the Nakheel Association established the first listening center for women victims of gender-based violence, outside the Rabat and Casablanca regions.

Since then, the association has provided counseling to more than 19,000 women and more than 2,000 child victims of violence. The Nakheel Association also supported nearly 2,000 gender-based violence cases in the courts in cooperation with other actors, including the competent authorities, the judiciary, health care providers, and the media.

In September 2016, USAID/Morocco allocated $500,000 to the Nakheel Association through the Local Works Fund. This funding has helped the association expand its work as an “intermediate support organization”, mentoring other civil society organizations, and working effectively with the government on behalf of citizens.

Through this program, the Nakheel Association trained 30 partner civil society organizations on organizational and technical practices, as well as on defending citizens’ rights. In July 2020, USAID/Morocco granted the Nakheel Association more than $320,000 in additional funding in the framework of combating “Covid-19” to address the rise in cases of gender-based violence in the Marrakech-Safi region. With this funding, the association established a solidarity restaurant and a training center for women victims of gender-based violence. It has also developed an online platform to provide support to these victims and their families.