Before departing, we took part in orientations to prepare us for our experience in Morocco where we were given information about the country. In addition, I researched about the country in relation to dress code, greetings, and other aspects about the culture not included in the materials provided. I recall reading about how liberal Morocco compared to other predominantly Muslim countries. This was said in regards to how women should dress. I had this image of a woman dressed in a traditional attire covered from head to toe. This idea of a Morocco being a more liberal country also made me think of the issue of gender roles and the generalization that women in predominantly Muslim country do not as many rights. I went to Morocco with the objective of confirming how liberal it was.
My assessment started immediately after getting off the plane. As we were going through immigration control, I noted that all the immigration officials were men. There was one woman but I could not establish what her job was or if she had any form of authority. We passed by security officers manning the x-ray machine, they were all men. It was only at the counters where we had stopped to change money and others were sorting phone services that I finally saw women provide services. At this point I did not think anything was out of the ordinary.
When we got to the hotel, I observed three people working at the reception and all were men. Again, I did not think much of this since it was the first day. I continued to take note of how at every place we visited there were more men providing the services. We stopped at several restaurants, at hotels, in the marketplaces, farms, and nearly every person that was attending to us was a man. If there was a woman anywhere, her role was either cleaning or doing something unrelated to the business.
Another thing I paid attention to was how women dressed in comparison to the image I had of a stereotypical Muslim woman in a Burka or Hijab. In Casablanca, in Rabat, Fes, Meknes, Marakech, women dressed more in the western style than in the traditional Muslim attire. I remembered that urban residents tend to be more progressive, so I made a note to compare how women dressed in rural compared to their counterparts in urban areas. Indeed, there was a difference, women in rural dressed in more conservative attire, long dresses to their feet with their heads covered. This finding was not surprising, I do think this is common in almost any country, rural residents are typically more conservative.
Our trip was a comparative analysis course where we analyzed differences between the U.S, and Morocco. Although not part of the course objective was agriculture and leadership related, I personally wanted to confirm how liberal Morocco was compared to how it was described. I looked at gender roles in public spaces and how women dressed as indicators. In one aspect Morocco did not appear to be as liberal as described, but in another aspect, it met expectations.