Moroccan women: Between the Western and the conservative Islamic Culture

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This article was published on “The Voice of Women Initiative”, check: http://vowinitiative.org/2013/08/26/moroccan-women-between-the-western-and-the-conservative-islamic-culture/

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The situation of Moroccan women seems to be different comparing to other Arab countries like for example Saudi Arabia and Yemen…; it’s quite different and similar at the same time.

I’m a young woman, student in college; I live in Rabat which is the capital city of Morocco, but originally from Agadir which is located in the south of Morocco.  I have observed that the situation of women in the two cities is different. In Rabat, Casablanca and other big cities, women seem to have more independence than other cities especially in rural areas where women are not allowed to do many things that empowers them.

Generally, the situation of Moroccan women is cut between that of women in the Western countries and those in conservative Islamic countries, as I said in big cities everything related to women seem to be fine on the surface starting with their clothing which vary from the perspective of each woman; there are women who wear Western outfits, and others who prefer the traditional conservative Moroccan dressing (Jellaba and Foulard…). The choice of clothing depends on the age and profession. Generally, teenagers wear casual Western outfits while working women wear Western-style business dress and older unemployed women wear traditional clothing.

Whenever you go into big Moroccan cities, you will find women workers in different domains in banks, shops, schools, holding important positions in government… You can find taxi drivers and women working in Souk … This seem a relief situation for women in Moroccan society to have a choice to get the job they want and to work as they want. I asked many working women about their salary and if it is similar to their male colleagues, I always get a YES answer; this is different comparing to the discrimination that used to be toward women’s salary 10 years ago.

I study in a college where more than half of the students are women, so it doesn’t seem to be any partiality against women working and going to school, in these listed cities. These annotations are limited to Rabat and Casablanca; the situation in rural areas is quite different and serious.

In rural areas women and girls do not have the right to go to school, because it is shame for her and her family, rural people believe that women should stay at home, do household work, raise their children and take care of their husbands.

In the whole of Morocco, there is a tremendously high illiteracy rate, especially in the rural areas, and expressly among women. According to the UNDP, more than 80% of women in rural Morocco are illiterate. Women face unfavorable and discriminatory attitudes of some communities towards their education. In fact, girls marry before reaching the legal age, even with the existence of the new Moudawana.

Exactly, grounded on what I said overhead about women going to work and school, Rabat, Casablanca and other big cities are not a representative sample of the situation of the Moroccan woman.

Note: this article is based on my own personal experiences and observations.

Sana AFOUAIZ

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