Day for Moroccan women

Hungary, Budapest - Before talking about Moroccan women, particularly their achievements and challenges, especially during recent decades, I'd like to give an overview of Morocco.

Morocco has been committed, for several decades, to the process of democratization, modernity and equality. At the heart of this challenge stands the question of reducing differences between gender, not only in the legal dimension but also and above all in the political, social, economic and cultural one. These parameters, which are strategic for Morocco of the 21th century, have been the central subject of interest of many actors of the Moroccan civil society.

To reinforce the legal principle of fairness and equality in gender, a series of laws were amended including the family code, the labor code and the code of nationality.


This presentation will be limited to the development stages in the family code known as the Moudawana.

Since the promulgation of a series of family laws in 1957 and 1958, the status of Moroccan women in civil law have been governed by the code of Personal status based on the Malakite school of Islamic law. This code has been contested by women movement because its has established a system of inequality and relegated women to a subordinate status in society. In spite of her skill, competence and high education.

I recall that since the colonial period to date, the movement of women has included the issue of family status as a priority in their agenda. These associations have a coherent and ambitious political, and social objective to restore women's rights, and dignity, and therefore help to transform the family and social structures of the country. They have always fought a struggle for full citizenship of Moroccan women.

Since then, claims of the feminist movement in Morocco have continued to grow for the promotion of women's rights. The Moroccan NGO participation in international meetings has made a major contribution to their cause, including the International Conferences on Women (Mexico 1975), (Nairobi 1985) and (Beijing 1995).

In early nineties, some Moroccan women rights' activists conducted a million signature campaigns for the changes of Moudawana. This was reinforced by the establishment of the National Council for the reform of the Moudawana which in 1993 led to a first change of that status, under King Hassan II.

However, the 1993 amendments were not considered sufficient by women's associations, which have continued their demands.

I would like to clarify that the text of the new family code in Morocco was not adopted overnight. There were various phases that preceded its official adoption.

The beginning of change in the family code dates back to 1999 when His Majesty the King Mohamed VI asked this question in His speech of August 20, 1999, after His accession to the throne: "how to ensure progress and prosperity in a society, where women, who constitute half of it, see their rights violated and suffer injustice, violence and marginalization, in violation of the right to dignity and fairness to them under our holy religion? ".

During the same year, the Government had proposed a National Action Plan for Integration of Women in Development (PANFID) in accordance with the recommendations of the 4th World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995).

This process has generated different responses from all segments of society. For example, in March 2000, two major events took place the same day where the one in Rabat supports reforms of the Moudawana, while the one in Casablanca objected to it.

To remedy this situation, in March 2001, The King received women's NGOs, to announce the creation of a Royal Advisory Committee to amend the Moudawana.

Unlike the committee created in 1993, the new commission, which was composed of distinguished experts and clerics, and men and women of various backgrounds and expertise, was responsible for submitting to His Majesty, proposals for substantial Moudawana reform.

His Majesty the King, emphasized in this regard, the need to strictly adhere to the law and to constantly keep in mind the real message and purpose of the generous and tolerant religion of Islam.

I wish to point out that the amendments made to the family code, in accordance with royal guidance, observe the precepts of sharia and meet the requirements of the modernization of Morocco.

This was made possible through the implementation of true Islam, progressive, tolerant and valid for all times and all places.

These amendments aim to institute a balance between the two spouses and enable them to educate their children in a healthy manner that reflects the role of the family as the basic unit of society.

During his speech at the opening of the parliamentary session on October 10, 2003, His Majesty the King highlighted the importance of changes made to the family code, citing supporting verses from the Koran.

The new family code, which replaces the former Code of Personal Status, was adopted unanimously on January 23rd, 2004 by all political parties including the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), and entered into effect on February 5, 2004.

The Moroccan society welcomed the adoption of this new family code, which establishes for the first time an equality in responsibilities, rights and duties for both spouses. It also establishes the principle of consensus in divorce under the supervision of the court.

This major reform was just a start that laid the foundation for more progress to come for Moroccan women.

• A new code of nationality was adopted in 2007. This code grants the Moroccan mother the right to transfer Moroccan citizenship to her children born of non-moroccan fathers.

• A National Charter for improving the image of women in the media was adopted to establish the culture of gender equality.

The measures taken by the Kingdom, benefiting Moroccan women, extend, also to national strategies based on concrete actions. These include:

• The development of a strategy to fight violence against women along with an operational plan for its implementation.

• The development of the national strategy of equity and equality between the sexes.

• The strategy of integration of gender in government policies and development programs.

• Budgeting in accordance with Gender.

Besides, and in order to harmonize the Moroccan legislation with provisions of existing international instruments, particularly those concerning women, Morocco undertook the following priority actions:

• The adoption of a prison legislation, which contains provisions specific for women, to secure their rights and respect their integrity.

• The adoption of the new penal code with provisions against all forms of discrimination against women – and provisions against human trafficking, prostitution and pornography.

• The new Labor Code (2004, confirms the principle of equality in work between men and women in jobs and wages.

• October 10, is a symbolic and historic date which was proclaimed by the High Authority of the country as a "Day for Moroccan women", to celebrate the anniversary of the introduction to parliament of the new bill of Family Code.

With this new reform, the progress achieved by the Moroccan family code has outshined, in many respects, the Tunisian code which remained for several decades, the model of the emancipation of women while having no impact on other countries because of its secular nature.

The new Family Code was a positive experience not only for Moroccan society, but also for other countries in the region and the Muslim world who consider it a model to follow.

To this end, Moroccan NGOs and experts who participated in drafting this code have been approached by a number of countries to explain the success of this process with the objective of replicating it.

With these reforms, Morocco has set itself on a path to become a model democratic society and has become the leading model of strong and progressive reform movement for women in the Arab world.

Written by
Mouna Mouline,
Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
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