By Saoud Izem Sarah
By Saoud Izem Sarah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, March 8, 2012
The 8th of March is international women’s day. The UN’s theme for this year’s commemoration is the empowerment of rural women and their role in the eradication of hunger and poverty. Given the occasion, I decided to look at the situation of rural women in Morocco. As with their counterparts in developing countries, Morocco’s rural woman live in very difficult circumstances. In addition to living with the challenges of a male-dominated society, rural women have to survive in environments where basic infrastructure is a luxury. Nevertheless, they remain incredibly active, more so than their urban counterparts, and attend to unpaid work that includes household and field chores, child rearing, looking after livestock and much more.
Since 2005, the National Initiative for Human Development has empowered Morocco’s rural women and has helped them succeeded in making their own mark in economic development through cooperatives. Despite the problems they confront, such as marketing or business trusts, women’s cooperatives have played a leading role in improving the conditions of rural life. As a result of the cooperatives, rural women have earned modest incomes. Regrettably, the money is insufficient in helping them overcome the harsh circumstances of rural life. Many of these women remain marginalized and completely ignored by Moroccan government representatives and policy makers.
While I recognize the efforts of past governments to fight illiteracy, maternal and child mortality in rural areas, the results are still very limited. In fact, it is counter intuitive to fight maternal or child mortality when the closest hospital is miles away. It is unrealistic to combat illiteracy when there are very few schools in rural areas and where most girls are still forced to attend to house and field work.
When the UN adopted conventions, such as CEDAW or the MDGs, it did so to advocate on behalf of all women, including those in rural areas. Moreover, when the UN sought to eradicate hunger and poverty, it meant to do so for rural and urban women. When the UN identified equality between man and woman as its third goal, it meant equality for rural women as well. Rural women often suffer silently and never lament their fate. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s empower rural women socially, economically and politically. According to statistics, rural women present over a quarter of the Moroccan population. Just imagine if Morocco were to take advantage of the rural woman’s energy, resourcefulness and other capacities.
Edited by Hicham Elkoustaf
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