Field Diagnosis: The Role of Elected Women in the Province of Ifrane

1 August 2018 | Report | English


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As part of its strategic vision, the Tazghart Azrou association has built up considerable experience in the area of responsible civic participation, notably the role of women in countries’ democratic processes through:

• Participation in the effective implementation of the provisions of the Constitution concerning gender equality; civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; and the achievement of equity;

• Women’s achievement of greater political and economic qualifications and autonomy and the strengthening of their participation in public life and promotion of their presence in decisionmaking posts;

• The strengthening of women’s capabilities, awareness of their human rights and the mechanisms to protect them;

• Drawing up programmes and projects to add value to women’s initiatives in the area of microenterprise and the social and solidarity economy;

• Strengthening the capabilities of women who are active in local and provincial politics to influence public policy decision-makers at local and regional level to take the gender issue into consideration;

• Mobilisation to advocate for the political participation of women.

A team consisting of Mr. Mohammed Kadiri, Mrs. Ilham Al Masnaoui, Mr. Zakariae Jebbar and Mr. Saïd El Yaagoubi from Tazghart and Mr. Mohammed Haddad, a researcher from the Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences at Moulay Ismail University in Meknes, has prepared this diagnosis as part of the pilot action to mobilise gender equality actors in the province of Ifrane. The aim is to understand the political representation of women in the Ifrane region and the obstacles found by elected women in effectively participating in the management of local affairs and promoting gender equality.

Objectives of the Diagnosis

The diagnosis forms part of a framework of national efforts intended to implement the new constitutional and legal requirements, notably those linked to the principles of equality, equity and participatory democracy, in order to promote development in Morocco, and, more particularly at the level of local authorities. Tazghart has launched this diagnosis in order to:

• Identify the practical and strategic needs which elected representatives – both men and women – must know, understand and respect whatever the positions of responsibility they hold in local government or in “equality of opportunity committees”. These requirements concern all legal structures (constitution, organic laws, political party laws, etc.);

• Assess the status of the “equality of opportunity committees” after the 2015 elections;

• Assess how to bring together the efforts of elected representatives at local level in order to influence and implement policies promoting and integrating gender and women’s human rights, including in planning and budgeting;

• Analyse the indicators and monitoring and assessment mechanisms for the participation of elected women in local authorities;

• Analyse the capabilities and competences of elected women in local councils and the nature of the tasks entrusted to them;

• Identify programmes to strengthen capabilities and trainings targeting women, as well as training needs and priorities.

The second phase of this diagnosis has consisted of analysing the results in order to:

• Determine the nature of the roles and tasks entrusted to the members of local councils;

• Collect data reflecting the quality of the competences of elected women in local government, notably in terms of management;

• Draw up a database on the nature of knowledge and the training of elected women linked to areas of competence of local authorities;

• Detach the principal constraint found by elected women when carrying out their duties;

• Understand the nature of the organisational, legal and institutional competences of members of municipal councils;

• Determine the working conditions and mechanisms concerning members of executives and elected women on municipal councils;

• Understand how the various bodies of municipal councils work, identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

Working Methodology

This diagnosis was drawn up according to the following steps: awareness raising, field visits, semi-directed interviews with 55 women in ten local authorities, and the organisation of workshops for reflection and exchange. The leaders of the pilot action’s target local authorities were invited to cooperate with this diagnosis at a launch seminar on 10 March 2018 at Azrou attended by 60 elected representatives and administrative staff of local authorities and civil society organisations.

The field team was strengthened with experts in local government administration and specialists in gender issues, governance and the development of administration so that quantitative information could be collected. This phase made it possible to establish a database on the current state of the roles of elected women on local authorities in Ifrane.

Two focus groups were organised on 14 and 15 April 2018 in Azrou and Ifrane, with the participation of 29 elected women and members of the local cluster of gender equality actors© in Ifrane (associations, local authorities, journalists) to make an in-depth study and complete the first results of the diagnosis.

A brainstorming workshop with members of the local cluster was held on 28 April 2018 to discuss the first draft of this diagnosis. After analysing the constraints found for elected women and their needs in terms of follow-up and strengthening of competences, a provincial training plan for elected women has been drawn up for implementation in the second half of 2018.

Introduction to the General Situation

Morocco is continuing its efforts to achieve sustainable development and social justice as priorities in order to promote the principles of gender equity and equality. It is looking to empower women as key partners and principal actors for the prosperity of the country at all levels, in accordance with the law and with civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental freedoms.

Women’s participation in political life is linked to the urgent need to preserve the credibility of the democratic approach that states are seeking to attain. It is no longer possible to reinforce the preeminence of the law or the achievement of development by putting democratic measures in place in our societies without the participation of women, who make up half of society, in positions where they make decisions and take responsibility.

Morocco has drawn up strategies and plans to support women and prepare them to play their full role in society. Over the last few years, women have had a considerable qualitative and quantitative presence in the economic and social sectors, in the legislative institutions and at the level of civil society organisations. Morocco has also ensured that its legal arsenal is in place (Constitution of 2011, Family Code, Employment Code, Civil Status Code, etc.) to establish the principle of equality in accordance with the different international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Morocco has also signed the Beijing Declaration and Action Programme and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In terms of women’s political empowerment, local and regional elections took place on 4 September 2015 and electoral laws leading to positive reforms concerning the political representation of women in local councils were adopted. Women’s representation reached 27% of seats at municipal and regional elections instead of 12% in 2009, allowing women to be candidates to chair local and regional councils, as well as providing financial support for civil society projects. Women’s participation in leadership and decision-making remains weak in the public and private sectors, with women making up 40% of civil servants and holding only 16% of management posts [1] .

General Details of the Province of Ifrane

The Geographical Setting and Demographic Structure

The study focuses on the Ifrane province in the Fès-Meknès region characterised by the major trunk roads passing through it. In terms of administrative divisions, the region consists of one district, two Bashaouia, six Qiadas and ten municipalities, including two urban municipalities. The province covers an area of 3,573 km2, the area suitable for agriculture is 83,000 ha and forests make up 116,000 ha.

The inhabitants of the province largely come from the Benimgid and Aït Seghrouchen tribes. According to the 2014 census, the population of the province is estimated at 155,221 people, 55% of them in rural districts and 45% in urban areas. The province represents 3.6% of the total population of the Fès-Meknès region. An analysis of the population situation shows that, although the growth rate in the region has reached 8%, some municipalities, such as Ain Elouh (-5%) and Ouad Ifrane (-2%), have recorded negative average annual growth.

Socio-Economic Figures and Indicators

a. Educational indicators

The level of education of the population of the province of Ifrane is quite low, with high rates of illiteracy (38%). Despite the existence of a large number of institutions, the school

infrastructure has made it difficult to meet demand. The age group concerned rarely enters higher education.

b. Health indicators

The province contains 12 health centres, 10 maternity centres, 18 village dispensaries and two hospitals, each with 158 beds, representing one bed for every 937 citizens.

c. Basic infrastructures

The road network in the province measures 815 km (149 km of national roads, 53 km of regional roads and 613 km of provincial roads), half of which are surfaced. The road network connection rate is 55%, while the drinking water connection rate does not exceed 75% and the electricity connection percentage stands at 88%.

d. Poverty is largely concentrated in the rural environment

Although the province of Ifrane has natural and human resources, the poverty rate (percentage of people with a standard of living below the relative poverty threshold) at provincial level is 21.5%. The marginalisation of rural populations increases every year. Firstly, the countryside is suffering from emigration and rural exodus, particularly among young

people. Secondly, the lack of access to basic facilities, particularly in the southern part of the region, increases the problem of social exclusion and economic vulnerability.

e. There is considerable unemployment in urban areas

The analysis of the characteristics of the activity in the province of Ifrane was carried out on the basis of active population structures, as shown in the results of national research on employment. The economic activity rate in the province of Ifrane is 43.9%. This rate varies very considerably between urban districts (39.4%) and rural areas (50.9%). This shows that unemployment particularly affects the region’s urban areas. In other words, 14.6%, compared with 6.5% in rural areas.

The Legal Context for Women´s Participation at Local Level

The State has made constant efforts to boost women’s autonomy and integrate them into political life by taking a series of legal measures making it possible to increase women’s representation in elected bodies and to access political decision-making posts at regional and national level. One of the most important elements for boosting women’s political participation is the existence of a body of law governing the management of local affairs. The most important provisions of these laws, including the Constitution and the organic laws concerning local authorities are presented below:

Local Authorities in Morocco: A Space for Local Democracy

The municipal councils are the elected institutions closest to citizens’ concerns and aspirations. They embody democracy and allow citizens to take part in local decision-making by directly electing the best representatives to councils.

Morocco became involved very early in experimenting with local authorities as an embodiment of the decision to decentralise and this has been considered a national priority. Although the legal system for decentralisation in Morocco has not yet reached the required level, over time the country has undergone a gradual but far-reaching transformation. In 2011, this process was crowned by the inclusion of advanced regionalisation in the Constitution, which devoted a whole chapter to the regions and local authorities. This is chapter 9 of the Constitution, with 12 articles based on a series of principles.

a. General provisions of the Constitution of 2011 concerning local authorities

The term “local” authorities is used, as shown in the first paragraph of article 135 of the

Constitution, which stipulates that “the local authorities of the Kingdom are the regions, the prefectures, the provinces and the municipalities”. In accordance with paragraph 4 of the first article of the Constitution “the territorial organisation of the Kingdom is decentralised, based on advanced regionalisation”. The local authorities are also acknowledged as territorial bodies. This constitutional change is not a simple formal and linguistic change, but rather a far-reaching modification indicating the underlying source of legitimacy in local affairs and their relationship with the State authority.

Meanwhile, the management of the local government affairs has become based on several constitutional principles, notably: the principle of free administration; the principle of solidarity and cooperation between local authorities; participatory democracy; governance; and the correlation between responsibility and the resulting accountability. In accordance with the second paragraph of article 135 of the Constitution “local authorities are organisations governed by public law democratically managing their affairs”. However, article 136 establishes that “regional and territorial organisation depends on the principles of free administration, cooperation and solidarity. It ensures the participation of the populations concerned in the management of their affairs and promotes their contribution to full, sustainable human development”.

Based on the principle of free administration, within their areas of respective competence and their territorial scope, local authorities have regulatory power to exercise their attributions. This principle gradually releases the authorities from the principle of restrictive supervision which used to interfere with the processes of elected local bodies.

The principle of free administration includes a set of ideas that must be taken into account, such as the notion of competitiveness, regional marketing and the strengthening of good governance. Respect for this principle will contribute to promoting the institutional construction of decentralisation and consolidating local democracy.

Also, the adoption of the principle of subsidiarity, which allows local authorities to have their own competences as well as competences shared with the State and others which the State can transfer to them.

The principle of solidarity and cooperation between authorities is intended to strengthen the spirit of citizenship and to establish effectiveness, quality and harmony in the management of local public affairs.

b. General provisions of organic law n°113-14 concerning municipalities

While the election of members of municipal councils has, from the beginning, been carried out by universal direct suffrage, the election of the mayor and the executive bodies of councils is being carried out for the first time by public suffrage to ensure transparency and higher moral standards in party and political life. Considering the role and competences attributed to the mayor and the requirement that he/she should be permanently present among the population, the law bans the election of members living abroad as mayor or deputy mayor.

The law recognises these municipalities as having the legal status of organisations and financial and administrative independence. Although the principle of independence represents the spirit of decentralisation in administrative terms, in practice this requires the availability of financial and human resources (elected representatives/civil servants) as well as measures needed for the proper operation of these municipalities.

Also, in accordance with article 140 of the Constitution and article 95 of the organic law, local authorities have in their respective areas of competence and within their territorial scope

regulatory power to exercise their permissive powers. These basic guarantees allow the elected councils through their various bodies to seriously engage in exercising the powers devolved to them and to develop their decisions and programmes depending on the needs of the population and the resources available.

In accordance with article 7 of the organic law, the council’s bodies consist of the executive, permanent committees, a clerk and his/her assistant and groups forming neighbourhood councils. The council executive consists of the mayor and deputy mayors.

In accordance with article 33 of the organic law, the municipal council must hold ordinary sessions three times a year during February, May and October. The council meets during the first week of the month fixed for holding the ordinary sessions. The session consists of one or more meetings. For each session, a schedule is fixed for the meetings and the matters to be submitted to the council for deliberation during each meeting.

c. The competences of the municipalities

The municipalities are no longer simple administrative institutions; recognition of their legal or institutional existence makes them local bodies with a physical presence. In addition, the idea of local administration is not limited to simply representing the population and providing various traditional and administrative services. Thanks to successive developments undergone by Morocco from its independence to the present day, the municipalities play an important role in economic, social and cultural development.

In accordance with article 31 of the Constitution, “The State, public establishments and local authorities work to mobilise all the resources at their disposal to facilitate equal access by female and male citizens to conditions allowing them to enjoy rights to health care; social protection; medical cover and provisions organised either mutually or by the State; modern, accessible quality education; education to encourage attachment to the Moroccan identity and to the unchanging ‘constants’ of the nation; vocational training and physical and artistic education; decent housing, employment and the support of the public authorities in searching for employment or beginning self-employment; access to public functions on merit; and access to water, a healthy environment and sustainable development.”

Article 137 of the Constitution establishes that: “The regions and other local authorities take part in implementing general State policy and drawing up local policies through their

representatives in the House of Councillors.” However, article 140 of the Constitution grants local authorities their own competences, competences shared with the State, and others that can be transferred to them determined by organic law nº 113.14 relating to municipalities in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity under articles 83, 85, 86, 87 and 90, taking into account the principles of progressiveness and differentiation between municipalities. This involves ensuring better governance, effectiveness, integration and harmony in order to prevent overlaps and conflicts of competences with other local agents or the state itself and the waste of more financial resources.

The current legal text establishes a distinction between the concepts of compulsory and permissive powers, where the first concept has more specific and precise meanings and the latter is much more discretionary.

Own competences

In accordance with article 83, the municipality creates and manages the public services and facilities necessary to offer local services in the following areas: drinking water and electricity supply; urban public transport; public lighting; liquid and solid sewage disposal and wastewater treatment; public street cleaning, and the collection, transport, treatment, recovery and disposal of domestic refuse; traffic, driving, the signage of public roads and parking for vehicles; the maintenance of hygiene; the transport of the sick and injured; the transport of bodies and burial; the creation and maintenance of cemeteries; municipal markets, craft fairs and grain markets; bus stations and service areas; the creation and maintenance of natural parks and campsites, etc.

Together with other agents from the public and private sectors, the municipality also proceeds to create and manage the following services: wholesale markets, abattoirs, meat transport and fish markets. When creating or managing the services mentioned above, the municipality must adopt the available methods of modernising management, notably through delegated management, establishing local development companies or contracts with the private sector. The municipality must also take into account the competences devolved under current legislation to other bodies, particularly the National Food Safety Office.

In the area of town planning and land organisation, under article 85 the municipality must:

• Ensure respect for the decisions and rules contained in the local development and land use plans and all other local planning and land use documents;

• Examine and approve the municipal building regulations in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations;

• Implement the provisions of the land use plan and rural development plan concerning the opening up of new urban development areas in accordance with the forms and conditions established by law;

• Establish a system of addresses in the municipality. Its content and the way it is drawn up and updated are fixed by a decree proposed by the Ministry of the Interior.

Shared competences

In accordance with article 87, the municipality exercises competences shared with the State in the following areas:

• The development of the local economy and the promotion of employment;

• The preservation of the specific features of local cultural heritage and their development;

• Carrying out the actions required to promote and encourage private investment, particularly the creation of infrastructures and facilities, the contribution to the establishment of economic activity areas and the improvement of working conditions for businesses.

For this purpose, the municipality may contribute, among other things, to the following actions: the establishment of youth centres; the establishment of crèches and nurseries; the establishment of women’s hostels, the establishment of retirement homes; the establishment of social centres, the establishment of leisure centres; the establishment of cultural complexes, the establishment of municipal libraries, the establishment of museums, theatres and conservatories for art and music; the establishment of sports complexes, the management of the coast in municipal territory; the maintenance of schools for basic education; the carrying out of maintenance on municipal roads and tracks; and the upgrading and tourist development of medinas, tourist sites and historic monuments.

Transferred competences

Article 90 fixes the areas of competence transferred from the State to the municipalities based on the principle of subsidiarity, notably: the protection and restoration of historic monuments, cultural heritage and the preservation of natural sites and the construction and maintenance of small and medium-sized hydraulic works and facilities. Article 91 establishes that, apart from the transfer of competences from the State to the municipality, the principles of progressiveness and differentiation between municipalities must be taken into account. In accordance with paragraph 4 of article 146 of the Constitution, the competences transferred become competences belonging to the municipality or municipalities concerned.

Initiatives for Women’s Political Empowerment

The question of the representation of women in elections receives considerable attention from the State, the political parties and civil organisations, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of 2011, notably article 19, which establishes that “men and women enjoy civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environment rights and freedoms equally”.

a. Actions and measures to support women’s empowerment

The government has adopted measures to:

• Encourage women to participate in civil society and political parties;

• Effectively implement the provisions of the Constitution concerning equality between men and women concerning civil, political, social and cultural rights and to achieve parity.

• The improved political and economic qualification and autonomy of women, boosting their participation in public life and their access to positions of responsibility;

Among the means established we might highlight the 7 th key point of the government equality plan (ICRAM) 2012-2016, concerning equal access to decision-making positions and those involving administrative, political and economic responsibility. In this context and with a view of increasing political representation for women, the government has taken various legal measures:

• A law regulating the House of Councillors establishes the inclusion of a legislative mechanism based on the adoption of the principle of alternating the sexes on lists of candidates submitted by elected bodies represented in the House of Councillors;

• A law governing the chamber of representatives allocating 60 seats to women in the context of the national list;

• Regulatory law n° 34.15 to amend and complete law n° 59.11 concerning the election of the members of local authorities;

• Concerning the strengthening of capabilities, the government (Ministry of the Interior) has established an integrated strategy to support women’s participation in political life and their role in elected councils by adopting various new measures in this area, notably the promotion and regrouping of education centres. It has also set up a distance-learning and communication website [2] and networks for elected representatives to exchange experiences and expertise.

Regional seminars have also been organised for the benefit of local elected women, as well as for women in senior management with local authorities. 16 seminars have been organised, with the participation of around 4,400 beneficiaries. Among efforts to support the agents in this area, a new decree on funds to support the promotion of women’s representation was approved on 5 September 2013. The “Communes de demain” (Municipalities of Tomorrow) programme, covering the period 2010-2014, has also been launched, in partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Many municipalities have also benefited from training for elected members focusing on strengthening the participation of women and young people.

b. The impact of measures and actions taken concerning women’s participation in the management of public affairs

The organic laws relating to local authorities have important provisions concerning the gender issue and its integration into regional development. These provisions insist on the need to take into account the gender approach in results-based planning, formulate action plans, implement the gender budget and implement and evaluate municipal action plans and provincial and regional development plans. These provisions also urge local authorities to establish advisory bodies concerning equality, parity and social gender.

All these measures and initiatives have made it possible to increase the participation rate of women in elected councils:

• There is a strong relationship between the gender approach and women’s participation in elected bodies in rural areas;

• If women reach the same level as men in decision-making posts, it is an indicator of the institutionalisation of the gender approach through public policies, as well as a means of reducing social, political and economic disparities between the sexes. 21% of women who are members of municipal councils come from rural municipalities (they make up 85% of the total for Moroccan municipalities). Moreover, the majority of the women elected as mayors of municipalities are in rural areas.

• This representation has had a positive impact on women’s experiences on municipal councils in the period 2009-2015. Research carried out by the Moroccan Directorate General of Local Authorities [3] has underlined the qualitative contribution of elected women in terms of improving the everyday life of the population by paying great attention to issues linked to security, basic infrastructures, health, children’s playgrounds, the institutional management of collective facilities and the adaptation of school hours to working hours. Elected representatives are closer to the population and more sensitive to their concerns than their male colleagues. The increase in the number of elected women has contributed to the introduction of new issues on to the agendas of municipal councils and the development of a critical spirit on how councils operate.

Analysis of Women´s Participation in Local Authorities in the Province of Ifrane

The Fès-Meknès region is one of the largest regions in the kingdom in terms of the number of local authorities. It is in second place nationally after the Marrakech-Safi region, with 194 local authorities. These local authorities have 4,069 elected members, equivalent to 13% of the elected members at national level. They are distributed by the prefectures and provinces of the region, and by sex, as follows:

In the province of Ifrane, there are 198 elected representatives in local authorities, including 44 women members and 13 elected representatives in the provincial council. The province has a group of municipal authorities called “environment”, responsible for the management of municipal waste and public gardens, chaired by an elected woman.

General Details of Elected Women in the Province of Ifrane

a. Geographical distribution of the elected women who were involved in the diagnosis

The number of women participating in the study was unequal: there was not the same presence or response from rural areas. Certain rural municipalities, such as Daït Aoua, were represented by a single woman, while a significant response was observed in urban municipalities.

b. Age groups of elected women in Ifrane

The graph below shows that 70% of the elected women in Ifrane (sample of 42 women [4] ) are aged over 30. 72% of elected women have not been to school, 17% studied until primary school and the percentage of women who have been to secondary school and university is below 7% and 4% respectively.

Analysis of the Level of Implementation of Mechanisms for Dialogue and Agreement in Municipalities

Strategic planning in municipalities makes it possible to clarify the way the municipal council wants to develop the municipality, implementing a short- and medium-term future view. This strategy is characterised by the involvement of all agents concerned in the diagnosis, planning and implementation of development projects.

The results of the diagnosis show that most municipalities in the province of Ifrane do not have the competences they need to achieve strategic planning. Six of them have not been able to draw up an action plan due to a lack of knowledge of the mechanisms and tools for participatory diagnosis and poor knowledge of strategic planning, monitoring and training mechanisms.

Meanwhile, article 20 of organic law 113-14 relating to municipalities establishes the creation by municipal councils of an advisory body in partnership with civil society agents responsible for studying issues related to the implementation of the principles of equity, equality of opportunity and the gender approach. This is called the “equity, equality of opportunity and the gender approach commission” (IEEGG). The body is considered to be a mechanism for implementing article 19 of the Constitution of 2011 in terms of gender equality and nondiscrimination, as well as article 139 establishing “participatory mechanisms for dialogue and agreement concerning the implementation by regional councils and the councils of other local authorities to encourage the involvement of all citizens and associations in drawing up and monitoring development programmes”.

The results of the diagnosis have shown that 60% of the ten municipalities in the province of Ifrane have not yet begun to establish this commission.

Analysis of the Level of Women’s Participation in Municipalities

Despite the diversity of the work done by elected women in Ifrane, women’s general participation rate in running municipalities is no more than 40%: 25 women are councillors and 17 are members of the municipal council. Of the 17 women council members, most occupy secondary positions (4th deputy mayor, 7th deputy mayor, vice-secretary, etc.). These percentages show that women are not in a position to play an effective and influential role in the development of these municipalities.

Following the diagnosis of women’s participation in the administrative and financial management of municipalities, it seems that the majority of elected women covered by the diagnosis do not take part in the various tasks involved in running the municipalities (only two out of 29 participate in administrative management and one out of 29 in municipal financial management).

Based on interviews with the elected women on their contribution (proposals for projects with a positive impact on the population), it can be seen that efforts are made at the brainstorming and problem determination phase. However, the majority of elected women do not have sufficient knowledge of the stages and mechanisms for creating development projects.

Analysis of the Capacity Building Programmes for Elected Women in Municipalities

The results of the questionnaires and direct interviews with women targeted by the diagnosis showed that the majority of them did not benefit from capacity building programmes (only three out of 29 women, or 10% of them, have benefited from them).

The analysis of 19 capacity building programmes for women shows that they are generally offered by local associations in the region (85% of the total). There are then NGO programmes financed by international bodies (10% of the total). Finally, there are programmes organised by Moroccan public institutions (ministerial departments), representing 5% of the total.

The nature of capacity building programmes varies from one organisation to another. The majority (97%) consist of meetings or forums, while training workshops form just 3% of the total. This explains the complete absence of support, exchanges of experience and expertise and the modest level of participation by female elected representatives in national and regional networks.

Analysis of Evaluation Programmes on Initiatives for Women at Municipal Level

The results of the diagnosis show that the majority of municipalities have carried out a project to add value to women’s initiatives in their own regions. The majority of these projects have been carried out as part of the National Initiative for Human Development, in other words, the municipalities have not used their own budget to undertake this type of project.

The number of women benefiting from projects in the National Initiative for Human Development in the Ifrane region between 2005 and 2017 was 4,317. According to statistical data from the Provincial human development committee [5] , the region’s women have benefited from 43 projects, with financial investments of more than 41.3 million dirhams.

According to the same sources, these projects have been divided between 11 education and training centres, with a financial envelope of more than 9.4 million dirhams; 13 reception centres, with more than 26.6 million dirhams; and six health centres with more than 4 million dirhams. Finally, 13 projects, representing an envelope of 1.09 million dirhams, have been completed as part of the economic integration of women since 2011. These projects notably include three maternity units, a breast cancer screening unit, nine boarding schools, a retirement home, a home for abandoned children, six women’s centres and three education and training centres.

The rate of representation of elected women on the management and governance bodies for National Human Development Initiative projects is 20% in the teams for revitalising districts and municipalities, 15% on local committees and 26% on regional committees. The role of the elected women is to propose and confirm National Human Development Initiative projects.

Analysis of Obstacles to Women´s Participation in Local Administration

Women’s participation in political life is linked to women’s status in society, freedom and democracy and covers rights, social justice and economic, political, cultural and social conditions. All indicators confirm the deterioration of the social and economic situation in Morocco, particularly in rural areas. This is reflected in the position of women because of the fragility of their situation.

The Obstacles to Women’s Political Participation

Many political, cultural and social obstacles make it difficult for women to participate. Illiteracy remains very widespread among women, together with violence against women in all its forms. This prevents them enjoying all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Although many

laws mentioning equality have been put in place, the conditions need to be created to apply the laws, involve public opinion and raise awareness among women themselves of their role in decision-making in their country.

Moroccan schools are important for getting across the basic principles of human rights in general and women’s rights in particular. School failure and the early marriage of children have important consequences for the integration of women in public life. It is also important to note that, most of the time, women remain faithful to the traditional view of female and male roles, despite their attachment to the principle of gender equality.

Meanwhile, the stereotypes reproduced and spread in society open the way for gender-based discrimination in professional life. In general, the image of women in the media, for example, is always marked by strong prejudices and women’s opinions are not taken into consideration. They are rarely called on to express their points of view on political and economic events unless they occupy positions of responsibility. Another very point very often raised among institutions concerns the exclusion of women from important positions in recruitment processes. In other words, gender disparities rooted in our society and encouraging forms of discrimination against women at professional level constitute an obstacle to their political, social and economic empowerment.

The limited participation of elected women in the management of public affairs remains linked to numerous criteria:

• Weakness in the practice of democracy within political parties;

• Failure of political parties to pay attention to women, lack of communication and lack of mobilisation for public participation;

• Lack of training of elected women;

• Lack of awareness of women of their right to participate in local government;

• Exploitation in elections of women who are considered as purely electoral voices;

• Women’s belief that politics is reserved for men;

• Weak presence of the gender approach and principles of equality of opportunity in mechanisms for political action and the management of public affairs;

• Poor knowledge of the competences of local authorities, their structures and local council working mechanisms;

• Weak capacity of women in drawing up and implementing municipal action plan budgets;

• Lack of communication, coordination and sharing of experiences among elected women;

• Limited awareness of advocacy and networking techniques.

The Constraints on Women’s Participation in Managing Public Affairs: The Need for Local Mobilisation for Equality

Reports by civil society organisations acknowledge the growing participation of women in political action in Morocco over the last few years. Nevertheless, this result remains insufficient because of the persistence of many structural factors in Moroccan society, such as the stereotype according to which women are not psychologically fit to take part in public life and occupy decision-making posts. What makes the situation still more difficult is the internalisation by women of this type of prejudice, which they are subjected to during their education, and the adoption of a quantitative approach that does not give a real image of women’s participation in politics and society. This measures women’s participation only by the number of candidates and the percentage of posts obtained, ignoring the quality, performance and added value of their contribution to society.

Moreover, the feminist movement is not generally well established in society, and women are more marginalised in rural areas than urban ones, which increases their poverty and their risk of exclusion from political life.

The weak level of education and literacy of women, notably in rural areas, and the incapacity of the media to fulfil their duty to promote women and their political participation are among the main obstacles in this respect. Moreover, some reports have underlined the fact that the main responsibility for supporting the women’s political representation should be assumed by the political parties.

According to international reports on equality issues, Morocco’s efforts are insufficient and limited. In the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Morocco is classed as 127th out of 128, according to the human development index. It is also in one of the bottom places in the rankings in the Global Gender Gap index for 2014, published by the World Economic Forum and intended to understand whether countries distribute their resources equally between women and men. This report measured the equality gap in four areas: economic participation and opportunities in terms of wages, participation and leadership; education in terms of access to basic and advanced education; political empowerment in terms of representation in decisionmaking structures and health, and survival in terms of life expectancy and gender. Morocco occupies 133rd place out of 142 countries, behind countries like Kuwait (113rd place), the United Arab Emirates (115th place), Qatar (116th place), Oman (125th place) and Egypt (129th place).

Recommendations and Proposals for Gender Equality in Local Government

There are various dimensions to women’s political participation:

• It helps to establish a fair division of gender roles;

• It allows women to contribute to managing and running society;

• It strengthens the principle of gender equality among all citizens. In fact, the implementation of the principle of equality is a true application of the concept of participation which is the basis of democratic practice, as the presence of women in decision-making serves all aspects of society;

• It contributes to the restructuring of society and its political system based on citizens’ interests and needs.

Women’s empowerment means they have the power, the resources and the capacity to be agents for change. This concept is closely linked to women’s personal fulfilment and their capacities to act in political organisations.

Women’s political participation is considered to be an index for the development and strengthening of public participation and a criterion for improving the mechanisms of democratic practice. The presence of women in positions of responsibility makes it possible to highlight their issues and uphold their rights.

For a Legal Framework Ensuring Parity and the Triumph of Equality

The body of law in Morocco concerning equality is continually progressing, but to speed up the development of women’s political participation, these laws require a series of reforms:

• Ratification of the remaining international instruments, removing all reserves affecting the conventions ratified and, in particular, the CEDAW, by adapting Moroccan legislation to these instruments and conventions;

• Adapting the laws relating to the political participation of women to the constitutional requirements for the recognition of equality;

• To adapt legislation to remove all internal contradictions undermining the spirit of equality and parity between men and women and damaging its effectiveness;

• Guiding constitutional institutions concerned with the promotion and protection of women’s rights towards the implementation of a participatory methodology in preparation, legislation and application;

• Applying legal provisions acknowledging gender equality and equality in all rights on the basis of specific electoral laws and laws governing the public function and political parties;

• Adopting a national list of women as a temporary mechanism and transitional measure bringing women closer to equality as a victory in their struggle and requiring the adoption of a certain number of seats for women (16 seats);

• Applying a binding system of quotas and expanding it to cover all local council elections and elections of members of boards of political parties, trade unions, civil society associations and public functions;

• Indicating a binding quota for women in positions of responsibility and leaders of political parties, trade union organisations and associations;

• Ensuring transparency and the non-manipulation of results in electoral processes.

Investing in an Education System Enshrining the Philosophy of Equality and Parity

• Advocating change in the stereotyped image of women in society through educational programmes;

• Integrating the principles of equality in educational programmes at all levels in order to correct and modify the social culture that perpetuates the idea that a woman’s place is in the home and a man’s place is in society;

• Strengthening teacher training and the vocational training of women working at pre-school and primary school level;

• Offering women equal opportunities concerning education, training, work and promotion so as to strengthen society’s convictions concerning the role of women;

• Institutionalising the gender approach and developing statistical bodies to monitor the presence of women in education in terms of gender and quality.

For political parties and associations committed to equality

Despite the growing presence of women in political parties and civil society associations, equality as determined by the Constitution of 2011 is far from being attained. The political parties and civil society must show initiative to promote equality:

• Raising women’s awareness of their rights, in other words meeting the need to disseminate the principles of human rights throughout Moroccan society by adopting real civil actions to mobilise it;

• Working to reduce the gaps between the laws and their effective application to guarantee the dignity of women and their participation in political, trade union and civil spheres;

• Updating the body of law on women’s issues by adopting laws and programmes to encourage

the fair and equitable implementation of the constitutional mechanisms establishing full equality between men and women based on citizenship;

• Involving all agents from civil society and political parties to develop an overall, multidimensional strategy integrating all forms of the cultural dimension to raise awareness of women’s rights and acting against the patriarchal culture, and stereotyped gender customs, traditions and roles;

• Promoting the economic and social development of women and ensuring health cover to eradicate illiteracy, poverty and unemployment;

• Motivating and encouraging women to participate in public, political, trade union and civil life and, in particular, to become members of political parties through programmes intended to develop women’s membership of these parties;

• Giving women the autonomy to achieve positions of responsibility within political parties by applying a system of quotas as a transitional stage to achieving the equitable and effective representation of women in political decision-making;

• Establishing quantitative and qualitative indices to measure the percentage of women in each party and trade union, the percentage of women candidates for management positions in political parties, the percentage of candidates on local electoral lists and the effectiveness of women in political decision-making;

• Promoting the cultural and social context for gender issues in Morocco by respecting the principles of modernity, citizenship and equality and encouraging the projects of associations and political parties with a view to integrating the gender approach in their programmes;

• Organising awareness-raising campaigns for the benefit of women to familiarise them with their rights and the importance of their participation in political parties and in positions of responsibility as a contribution to the development of society;

• Adopting mechanisms and initiatives to arouse the interest of the political elite and the active participation of women in all aspects of political and public life, such as financial support in elections.


Morocco has made significant progress in strengthening the institutional and legal context for women’s political empowerment. These measures have made it possible for women to access national, regional and local elected councils. Despite these efforts to reduce gender inequalities and disparities, there are challenges to overcome:

• Establishing respect for human rights, most importantly women’s rights;

• Working for development, which can only be achieved in the light of stability and peace so

that women, like men, can work with the values of equity and equality;

• Reducing the gender gap in access to education to reduce the prevalence of illiteracy;

• Providing education and support services to put an end to legal and functional illiteracy;

• Appreciating and acknowledging women’s efforts at their fair value, particularly in rural areas.


Clarification of key concepts and terminology

Citizenship: a human being’s lasting condition of belonging to a territory in a country provided with a political system called a “State”, and with a nationality. A citizen participates in the mechanisms of government, is subject to the laws of the State and has the same rights as other citizens.

Empowerment (of women): a series of changes strengthening women’s capabilities and their access to decision-making posts and altering unequal power relationships between genders, on one hand, and between people of the same gender, on the other. Empowerment can be achieved by calling existing power relationships into question. The aim of women’s empowerment is to “transform” institutions by using mechanisms such as strengthening capabilities to allow access to and control of information and resources. This is an important stage with a view to achieving equality by freeing men from a series of social and cultural pressures.

Equality: each human being, both men and women, has the right to develop their own capabilities and to make choices without coercion due to the rigid stereotypes or prejudices which society assigns to men and women. Particular behaviour, aspirations and needs of men and women are taken into consideration, have the same value and are supported in the same way (equal rights and equal pay).

Equity: social justice between men and women takes into account the different needs of women, men, girls and boys through development programmes. For example, special measures are required to put right historical social damage affecting women.

Participation: the contribution of an individual, group or body in all activities and at all levels in the economic, social, political, cultural and other areas of the life of the society to which they belong.

Political representation: the role of women in this area often depends on women’s organisations which are concerned with developing the political representation of women at the level of local councils and committees. Representation is understood as being involvement and participation in decision-making or in a regulatory role at political level through political parties or pressure groups.

Social gender: the concept of gender refers to the social roles of women and men, which are determined by the culture of a society as part of the roles, responsibilities, behaviours and values appropriate for men and women in this particular society. These roles change from one society to another and from one social class to another, just as they can change over time within society itself. This concept was initially used to express “social relations of social gender” but it has been cut back.


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[1] Report of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, 2011



[4] In total, there are 44 elected women in the province of Ifrane.

[5] Press release on the occasion of World Women’s Day, 8 March 2018

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