Moroccan Women’s National Day
In this occasion, on behalf of all Moroccan women, I would like to thank Congresswoman Barbara Lee, representative of the 9th district of California in the United States of America introduced Resolution 1520 to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, recognizing Morocco's designation of October 10th as Moroccan Women's National Day.
In paying tribute to the Moroccan woman, it is important to remind all of us of the leading role she has played in the history of her country and of her contribution, with extraordinary courage, towards the struggle against foreign occupation. Her activism and resistance was largely reflected in her signing of the "proclamation of independence document" in January the 11th 1944 and her strong involvement in the resistance movement and the army of liberation.
Also, the Prime Minister, as a tribute-paying gesture to all women, has proposed to rename some streets after prominent female members of the resistance movement, and change the title of the "High Commissariat for former resistance fighters and members of the army of liberation" to the "High commissariat for women and men of the resistance movement and members of the army of liberation".
There has been a firm national political will to reinforce women's well-deserved position in decision-making circles, especially since the last decade. In fact, the importance of women's participation in the socio-economic and political development of the country has been at the heart of the ongoing debate in Morocco.
It was in this spirit that His Majesty King Mohamed VI, in a speech to the nation on August 20th 1999 declared: "How can society achieve progress while women who represent half of the nation see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted them by our glorious religion".
This statement was reinforced by a later royal speech pronounced in the Parliament on October 3rd 2003, where women's rights took center stage and His Majesty called to "adopt a modern formulation instead of the concepts that are detrimental to the dignity and humanity of women".
Morocco has launched a huge reform program to integrate women into the process of socio-economic development, contribute to the management of public affairs of their country and to enjoy all the rights provided by the constitution, based on the principle of gender equality and fair opportunities for all members of society.
Among these major reforms, we can cite:
- First, the adoption of new family law on January 26th, 2004, reinforcing the principle of equality between men and women;
- second, the adoption of the new citizenship law in 2007, allowing the children of a Moroccan woman married to a foreigner, to have Moroccan citizenship;
- third, the adoption of the national charter for the promotion of the image of women in the media, devoted to instituting the culture of gender equality and;
- fourth, a series of measures taken to promote Moroccan women, which include national strategies to combat violence against women and ensure gender equality in all realms of society.
In order to harmonize Moroccan legislation with the provisions of existing international conventions and treaties, particularly those concerning women, Morocco has undertaken some major actions:
- First, the adoption of penitentiary legislation containing provisions specific to women guaranteeing inmate rights and respect to their integrity.
- Second, the adoption of a new penal code prohibiting all forms of discrimination against women and harshly penalizing sexual harassment, and trafficking in prostitution and pornography.
- Third, the adoption of a new labor code in 2004 confirming the principle of equality between men and women in careers and salaries.
It is thanks to this growing awareness and a general mobilization that Moroccan women have made their way to the top levels of government as advisers to the King, Ministers, Ambassadors, representatives and advisers in both chambers of the parliament.
Moroccan women have in fact reinforced their role in society as they have conquered professional grounds that were previously the monopoly of men, such as city mayors, airplanes pilots, and police officers, to mention but a few.
The incorporation of an election code in Parliament has paved the way for the entry of 30 women to the House of Representatives, breaking thus with an exclusively male dominated tradition of parliamentary representation. Thanks to the introduction of a quota of 30 seats reserved for women, they now represent over 10% of parliament members. These new opportunities for women in the legislative branch have resulted in increased participation in political life. In fact, in the past ten years we have seen female representation in Parliament increase from 2 in 1997 to 34 in 2007.
This remarkable achievement is the result of royal guiding principles devoted to fostering gender equality as well as the drive and determination of women to play constructive roles in the development of our country.