A Significant Moment

July 28, 2016

The front page of yesterday’s New York Times read, “A Significant Moment for American Women.”

“What does it take to be the first female anything?” actress Meryl Streep asked the Democratic National Convention in our great city of Philadelphia this week. She continued, it takes “capacity of mind, fullness of heart and a burning passion for their cause.”

As I read this from my home in Morocco I was brought to tears as I was the day before after watching Michelle Obama’s speech. What a significant week it has been for American women indeed.

In this increasingly complex time, we are reminded every day that the playing field is not level. That people do not in fact have the same opportunities everywhere. I love living abroad because I am an American woman living abroad and that makes me one of the most free in the world. I owe that to the generations of women before me including Hillary Clinton who paved the way for my freedoms.  I owe that also to my parents who made sure that I had a great education and exposure to the ideals of a country where there are no limits on who we can be and what we believe in.

I couldn’t agree more with Michelle Obama when she said, don’t let anyone tell you that America is not great. Other ex pats probably agree, sometimes it takes leaving the country to see with your own eyes what makes American ideals so powerful.

Whether you are a democrat or republican we all can agree that the power of this past week has been undeniable. Madeleine Albright, Elizabeth Warren, Gabby Giffords, Senator Amy Klobuchal, there are so many powerful women role models and change-makers among us. “The world is changing beneath our feet and it’s past time to embrace a twenty-first century approach to advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls at home and across the globe.” (Hillary Clinton -Women in the World Summit, April 5, 2013)

“She’ll be the first, but she won’t be the last.” Closed Meryl Streep.

As my daughter Hiba watched parts of this convention with her Aunt Katie in New Jersey this week,  I am proud and honored for her to be there and witness this historic and transformational moment in American history. Because even at two she understood that something powerful has just happened.

Our First Lady called for America to get to work and elect it’s first female president, and oh yes, along with all of us Hiba clapped!

 

Girl power

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It has been an eventful month in Morocco!

It’s the holy month of Ramadan, Michelle Obama and Meryl Streep were just here, and today starts a ban on plastic bags in the country. Nothing short of amazing!

As many of you know, I first came to Morocco as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2003. When we volunteers first arrived one of most disturbing observations of the gorgeous Moroccan countryside was the amount of plastic bags the littered the landscape. According to recent data, Morocco is the 2nd largest consumer of plastic bags, only second to the USA. On average, plastic bags are used for 12 minutes, but they take between 100 and 400 years to be degraded. I am so excited to say that in the last 13 years there has been a noticeable improvement with many local ‘Espace Verte’ Green Space clean-up programs. I am even more impressed that the Moroccan Govt has stepped up to ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores starting TODAY! Good thing there is no shortage of cool straw artisan bags here! 😉

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Ok enough about bags, I know you are wondering why the First Lady Michelle Obama and Meryl Streep were in Morocco!?  Wow talk about powerhouse women. The First Lady and America’s most famous actress arrived last Tuesday evening in order to meet with young women and encourage them to stay in school. The First Lady also made a big announcement….

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which is an global anti-poverty agency, will be working closely with the government of Morocco to invest $100 million to transform Morocco’s middle and high school education system, helping students across the country – including about 50,000 adolescent girls – get the skills they need to have the careers they dream of. MCC is also launching a new $4.6 million Education for Employability Partnership Fund to support programs that will address the needs of girls – things like internships and after school clubs to get girls excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or new classroom technology specifically designed with girls in mind.

In addition, USAID will be supporting school dormitories (which are called “Dar Talibas”) for girls from rural areas so they can continue their education beyond elementary school, even when middle schools are far from their homes. And the Peace Corps (yay!) will be announcing Morocco as one of their next Let Girls Learn target countries where volunteers will be organizing girls’ education and empowerment projects nationwide. As you know, women’s education and empowerment is something we feel strongly about at Mushmina. Read more here!

And finally, to top off  an amazing month, we just got the green light on our biggest order yet. Mushmina bags (and Katie!) will be airing on QVC on Sept 9th. Tune in to see our newest line designed by Katie and produced by our artisan team in Morocco especially for QVC.

Much love and gratitude,

Heather, Katie, & the Mushmina team

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