RABAT (20 February 2012)– More than a decade ago, Morocco embarked on an agenda of political and societal transformation which stands firmly on a broad-based national consensus. Gender equality and women’s human rights were at the core of this agenda. In 2011, Morocco took another leap forward with the adoption of a new Constitution which reiterates commitments to democratic principles, condemns discrimination on the basis of sex and affirms equality between men and women, affirms the primacy of international law in the domestic legal order, offers a legal basis for affirmative actions to women for elected office and creates an Authority for Parity.
To ensure that gender equality remains central in the complex process of political and social transformation, the Working Group calls upon the Government of Morocco to give priority to the establishment of the Authority for Parity in accordance with international standards and as a means to further consolidate and advance the country’s decade-long achievements on equality and women’s human rights. Despite many competing priorities faced by the Moroccan Government, drafting of the implementing law must start as soon as possible, involving all the relevant stakeholders. The National Council on Human Rights (CNDH) has initiated a public debate on this law which should be continued and expanded to ensure inclusiveness of the deliberations.
The Working Group, represented by Kamala Chandrakirana and Emna Aouij, focused its mission on Morocco’s legal framework in the context of promoting equality and eliminating sex discrimination, on the implementation of the relevant laws, and on the remaining gaps in legal protection. During its eight-day mission, the delegation engaged in constructive dialogues in Rabat, Casablanca, Fez and the province of Khémisset with Government officials, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, representatives from the national and regional human rights institutions, civil society organizations and academic experts, as well as grassroots women community leaders.
During the course of the mission, the delegation noted the significant progress achieved through the adoption and reform of several laws, notably the Family and Nationality Codes, and the Commercial, Labour, and Penal Codes as well as the withdrawal of Morocco’s reservations to CEDAW. Nonetheless, discriminatory provisions remain, including in the Family Code on marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance and require continuous improvements. Stakeholders have identified critical gaps in Morocco’s legal protection, particularly for women victims of domestic violence, for women and girls employed as domestic workers, and for women migrant workers. The Working Group calls on the Government to accelerate debates on bills on domestic violence, domestic workers and migrant workers.
While it appreciates the creation of special women’s units in the judiciary, the Working Group is concerned about reports of court rulings not favorable to women in relation to implementation of the Family Code, including with regards to early marriage and polygamy. It is encouraged by the expressed commitment of the Minister of Justice and Liberties to conduct a comprehensive assessment of implementation of the Family and Penal Codes, and asks that this be carried out through a participatory method, involving relevant stakeholders in civil society, with the objective of increasing State compliance with its core obligations to prevent, prosecute and provide remedy for all forms discrimination against women. The Working Group also recommends further increasing the capacity of the judiciary in applying the provisions of the Family Code.
The Working Group commends the Government on the wide range of institutional and other measures taken to enable women to enjoy their human rights with dignity. These include the Government Agenda for Equality to integrate gender across sectors, the "Tamkine" program to combat gender-based violence, the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) to empower women in poor communities and the support fund for poor divorced women in accessing alimony. The Working Group considers the Government’s gender-sensitive budgeting approach to be a good practice for evaluating Government performance in implementing gender equality programs. All such measures should be complemented by effective mechanisms for public accountability as part of the wider system of participatory democracy.
The Working Group recognizes the leadership and willingness at the highest echelons of Moroccan society which has been a determining factor in progress to date. It also appreciates Morocco’s dynamic civil society and encourages the Government to solidify its partnership with civil society. The constitutional right for citizens to present motions in legislative matters is a significant element of Morocco’s participatory democracy.
In political and public life, the Working Group recognizes the important role that national and supplementary electoral lists have played in increasing the number of women elected officials at the national and local levels. It notes however that these measures are not legally binding despite the constitutional guarantees and the law on elections and political parties. In light of impending elections in 2012, the Government should take further measures so that parity in political institutions meet international standards. In anticipation of the country’s decentralization plans, the Government should incorporate recommendations of the Consultative Commission on Regionalization regarding integration of gender into all aspects of Morocco’s regionalization scheme. The Working Group underlines the need for adequate representation of women in the top decision making positions across all state institutions, including the executive, legislative and judicative bodies. While formal equality is important, the institutionalization of substantive equality in Morocco is equally of high priority.
Poor and rural women need to be an integral part of the historic reforms the country is undergoing. The Working Group notes that national programs such as INDH are crucial to integrate development and human rights and to secure participatory democracy at the local level, but has so far benefited women disproportionately less than men. The Government should take concrete measures to secure women’s ownership INDH’s next phase of implementation with independent oversight involving the regional commissions of CNDH and civil society.
The Working Group notes significant cultural and societal impediments to full enjoyment by women of their human rights. It encourages the Government to use all means at its disposal, including education and the media, to combat stereotypes and negative portrayal of women.
The Working Group looks forward to the full implementation of the Agenda for Equality. It regrets not having had the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development. It nevertheless hopes that the Minister will provide leadership in further advancing Morocco’s great achievements towards equality, in conformity with international human rights standard to which it is party. The Working Group wishes to thank the Government for its cooperation prior and during the visit and all the interlocutors for their time and openness in discussing issues related to its mandate. This reflects the good will of the Moroccan Government in cooperating with the United Nations.
The Working Group will present its final conclusions and recommendations stemming from its visit in its report to the Human Rights Council in June 2012.
For additional information on the mandate of the Working Group, please visit:
OHCHR Country Page – Morocco
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