Beijing + 20 in Morocco: where do we stand?

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While there is some progress in the institutionalization of women's rights in Morocco, NGOs still have to compensate the state's deficiencies in supporting literacy, fighting against violence or discrimination of girls providing domestic work.

With the approach of the International Women's Day and in the light of the Beijing + 20 years celebration, Morocco has hosted a number of events marked by the participation of national institutions, civil society, human rights and women’s rights activists , parliamentarians, partners of bilateral and multilateral cooperation and the United Nations agencies in Morocco. As for the international community, these events held in Morocco were an opportunity for various stakeholders to share their thoughts and their views, and to evaluate and discuss the progress achieved in the field of woman’s rights 20 years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration in 1995 in order to enlarge the mobilization in favor of gender equality in Morocco.

I. Institutional activity: "Women's rights in Morocco, 20 years after Beijing"

A conference was held on 27th February 2015 in Rabat with the theme: "Women's rights in Morocco, 20 years after Beijing", headed by Mbarka Bouaida, the delegate-Minister to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Bassima Hakkaoui, the Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development (MSWFSD) and Leila Rhiwi, the Representative of UN- Women for the Maghreb region.

In this context, Bassima Hakkaoui (MSWFSD) shared that after this conference Morocco will participate in the 59th session of the Committee on the Status of Women (New York, 9-20 March 2015) which will assess the results and progress made at the level of the implementation of the Beijing declaration of Beijing after 20 years of its adoption.

In fact, Ms. Hakkaoui seized the opportunity to point out that Morocco has made tremendous progress with initiatives that reflect the spirit of the 2011 Constitution concerning equality and gender parity. In addition, she recalled that the new constitution contained 18 provisions for women rights.

Indeed, equality between men and women in the enjoyment of civil, political, cultural, economic, social and environmental rights guaranteed by the international ratified conventions is now enshrined in this Constitution. These provisions are clearly set out, inter alia in article 19 of the Constitution "Man and woman shall enjoy equal human rights and civil liberties of political, economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects (...) to be created, for this purpose, an Authority for Parity and the Fight against all the forms of Discrimination”.

The minister stressed particularly that Morocco has made progress with respect to its international commitments, stating that Morocco has realized important results,  making the Kingdom one of the leaders on these issues at the regional and international level.        

For her part, Ms. Mbarka Bouaida, the delegate-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said that the Kingdom of Morocco has steadily demonstrated an unwavering commitment to a proactive approach to promote the empowerment of women and gender equality by implementing structural reforms and taking effective measures to strengthen the role of women in building a modern society. She also said that "If the reform of the Family Code has made Moroccan women embrace justice, and strengthened her role within the family and society, the new Constitution of 2011 paves the way for an effective fight against woman-discrimination, making her enjoy fully her civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms”[1].

For her part, the representative of the UN-Women Office in the Maghreb, Leila Rhiwi, assured that Morocco has adopted a strategy to promote and protect human rights including equality between women and men, which is a centerpiece and an essential lever for the development of this issue. She has also mentioned many gains for equality such as the adoption of family and nationality codes that allowed substantial reduction of legal discrimination between men and women.

She recalled that as far as public policy is concerned, Morocco has developed an integrated strategy for women's rights, and that the country distinguished itself  with the launch of the gender budgeting process, a proven experience at regional and international levels,  which is recognized as a model experience.

Overall, this conference concluded that regardless of the importance of legislative and constitutional gains, the latter will not be realized unless a strong willingness on the part of stakeholders and an engagement of all the citizens have been proven to strengthen, develop and implement these achievements in the framework of a shared responsibility.

II. Activities of the Moroccan civil society:
2.1 Parallel Report of Moroccan NGOs

In the same vein and in parallel to the official events and statements, the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM) presented in Rabat on Thursday, 26th February, a parallel survey on the implementation of the Declaration of the Beijing Platform for Action + 20.

A coalition of 39 Moroccan NGOs operating either in the fields of women's rights or human rights participated in the survey leading to the report of Moroccan NGOs on the implementation of the Declaration of the 1995-2015 Beijing Platform entitled "The situation of women in Morocco, 20 years after Beijing: Status quo and recommendations” (Annex 1). This report was coordinated by the ADFM and financed by the European Union.

The report criticizes the Moroccan policy in the field of women's rights and emphasizes both the shortcomings and the limits of Morocco's achievements in terms of equality and parity between men and women. According to the report, "the government shows no willingness to meet the supremacy of international conventions, at the same time, the implementation of many reform projects remains slow". As demonstrated in the report, several legislative and institutional progresses have been made over the past 20 years in the 12 critical areas of discrimination of women established by the UN. Nevertheless, they remain inadequate and below the citizens’ expectations due to a lack of budgetary resources or political willingness, and hence leaving NGOs to bear this heavy task to fill up the absence or deficiency of the state in several fields such as literacy, fight against violence or discrimination of girls providing domestic work.  

2.2 Parallel report of the Jossour Association‘s Forum of Moroccan Women (FMM)

The Jossour FMM association conducted a study, which provides an assessment of barriers to Moroccan women in achieving their goals of equality, and suggests recommendations for concrete actions in this regard. Therefore and during a side event at the 59th session of the Commission on the Condition of Women held on Tuesday, 17th of March 2015 at the United Nations - New York, the Jossour FMM association presented its report entitled " Moroccan women’s Rights, 20 years after Beijing "which was discussed by national and international experts who are interested in such issues. (The report in question and the report of the event are attached as  Appendix 2 and Appendix 3)

International conventions on women's rights ratified by Morocco:

Morocco has ratified most of the general and international instruments that help create and promote the principle of equality between men and women: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, respectively (ICCPR), ratified in 1979; the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified in June 1993 with reservations. Furthermore, Morocco expresses, on many occasions, its intention to ratify the optional Protocol.

[1]The MAP Communiqué of 27th February 2015: Morocco demonstrated an unwavering commitment to a proactive approach to promote the empowerment of women and gender equality (Bouaida)

Further Information:

Appendix 1: "Situation des femmes au Maroc 20 ans après Beijing Etat des lieux et recommandations". Rapport des ONG marocaines, 2015. (PDF, 810 KB)

Appendix 2: "Droit des femmes marocaines 20 ans après Beijing". Jossour Forum des Femmes Marocaines, 2015. (PDF, 843KB)

Appendix 3: "Rapport De l’Evénement Parallèle de Jossour Forum des Femmes Marocaines" Jossour Forum des Femmes Marocaines, 2015. (DOCX, 41KB)