Policy: Labor

Labor Department awards nearly $1 million to promote workplace gender equality in Morocco

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Beltway Confidential,Labor,Ashe Schow,Gender Issues,Morocco

Morocco will receive a $998,384 grant award from the Labor Department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs to promote women in the workplace and enforce their rights.

The grant will be administered through a cooperative agreement with the humanitarian organization Management Systems International.

“Respecting the labor rights of working women and promoting gender equality in the workplace supports sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development,” Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Carol Pier said. “This grant will provide technical assistance to support stakeholders' efforts on these critically important issues.”

Women in Morocco currently account for less than 30 percent of the nation's workforce and earn about 40 percent less than men with similar education and jobs.

Women have made gains under the policies of King Mohammed VI, who modified the Moroccan constitution to recognize gender equality after the Arab Spring. In 2012, for the first time in Moroccan history, a veiled woman, Bassima Hakkaoui, took over the Moroccan Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development. However, she is the only woman in Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane's cabinet, although the previous administration included seven women.

Following the 2011 parliament election, women won 67 out of 395 seats in the lower chamber, partially thanks to a quota system implemented at the national level.

A 12 percent quota was applied to local elections in 2009, further increasing the number of women in politics, up from just 1 percent in 2003. However, just 7 women were elected to local district seats, representing just 2 percent of the 305 seats.

But the women currently serving in office represent a 6.5 percent increase in representation since 2007.

Though Morocco is considered one of the more liberal Muslim-majority countries, difficulties for women are still reflected in the democratic process. Overcoming social norms are necessary for women to be elected and trusted to lead.

Women have made gains in the Moroccan legal system as well. In 2006, women made up 19 percent of all judges and 16 percent of supreme court judges.

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