Fez - Prime Minister Benkirane is under fire for his statements to Parliament regarding the role of women earlier this week. The prime minister, and head of the Justice and Development Party, made an impassioned speech suggesting that a women’s place is in the household rather than in the workplace.
Fez – Prime Minister Benkirane is under fire for his statements to Parliament regarding the role of women earlier this week. The prime minister, and head of the Justice and Development Party, made an impassioned speech suggesting that a women’s place is in the household rather than in the workplace.
“Today many women cannot find time to get married, be a mother or bring up children,” Benkirane said in Arabic to the Moroccan parliament. “Why do we refuse to acknowledge this sacred role?” he continued.
Prime Minister Benkirane and his Islamist party have often been criticized for their conservative values and traditional view toward the role of women in society. “Benkirane is time and again seen trying to spread his Islamic views in Moroccan society with recourse to his traditional religious discourse. He thinks women should always behave the same socially, irrespective of the ages, primitive or modern,” Abdu Rabih, PhD candidate at Ibn Tofail University, said.
Many see the prime minister’s comments as an insult to the progress women have made in terms of human rights and their role in Moroccan society.Kaoutsar Entifi, a working mother and small business owner, said Benkirane has shown no sympathy for women who juggle between work and family.
“He has no compassion for women who have to be mothers, housekeepers, cooks, drivers and tutors and executives, secretaries, nurses, doctors, teachers etc. He does not seem to have thought a minute about the double shift working mothers have to endure, the second one starting after they reach home in the evening,” Entifi said.
The prime minister went on to refer to the household as “dark” if the mother leaves to take a job in the workforce. “When Morocco’s women went out for work, houses grew dark. Before that, you lived in houses equipped with chandeliers [mothers], there you felt the warmth of your mothers,” Benkirane said.
“Today’s children have to depend on themselves from an early age as their mothers are out at work,” he added.
“Benkirane’s words regarding houses being ‘dark’ because of working mothers have done a great deal of damage and have alienated just about half of the population,” Entifi said.
Yet some Moroccans agreed with the prime minister’s statements that encourage women to stay at home. “Today’s women do not provide enough care so often to their children. This generation of children therefore lacks Moroccan principles of caring. Leaving them home will create frustration and a break in the child-parent relationship,” Hamid Ait El Caid commented online.
The Justice and Development Party was one to oppose changes to the Moroccan family code in 2004 that granted more rights to women in the areas of marriage and divorce. Some Moroccans fear the comments are a sign that the party could backpedal on women’s rights in the future.
Others argue that what the prime minister said holds true and women should be valued for their hard work in traditional roles in the household where men and women play different parts. “One has to work, while the other has to settle at home looking after the children. Each part plays a certain role in the family framework. This will maintain the unity of the family and will bring up a good generation,” El Caid added online.
Still, the comments may have come across as a threat to women’s rights and many Moroccan women feel the need to stand up against such remarks. “The majority of educated working mothers are more aware of their children’s needs. It’s quality time that counts not quantity,” retired teacher, Batoul Daoudi Mootassem, said.
“Moroccan women are superstars, they work at home, help their men, educate their kids and take care of themselves. Women have proved to be as good as men in handling tough situations which makes it hard for men to compete. Now, lets work seriously on issues that affect our kids and our society,” Najia Kemmou, a Moroccan American business owner, added.
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